Plan International and Head of EU Delegation Visit National Youth Farm at Masiaka
A high powered team made up of the Minister of Youth Affairs – Mr. Bai Mahmoud Bangura, Mr. Casely Ato Coleman – Country Director of Plan International Sierra Leone, Mr. Peter Versteg – Head of EU Delegation in Sierra Leone, Major General (Rtd.) Carl Modey – High Commissioner, Republic of Ghana, and Professor Abu Sesay – Lead Consultant (SOPAA SL Ltd.) visited the National Youth Farm on Thursday 2nd June 2016.
The Minister of Youth Affairs – Mr. Bai Mahmoud Bangura stated his dream for the farm was to create sustainable employment opportunities for young people. He requested the continued support of donor and aid agencies to the Youth Farm project to help transform and improve the lives of young people in the agriculture sector in the country.
In his comments, Mr. Casely Ato Coleman said the purpose of the visit was to review progress as well as challenges of the farm as well as a joint effort between Plan and MOYA to mobilize resources for the project to bring it to scale across the country and highlight the initiative of the Government of Sierra Leone to support youth engagement and youth employment.
Mr. Coleman said Plan International saw the project as a very innovative post Ebola project to help rebuild community resilience. He noted that the project was sited in Port Loko district which is one of Plan’s sponsorship program areas and said the outcome of the project will benefit the children, women and young people of the district.
Mr. Coleman said Plan will continue to support MOYA to engage new partners to invest in the project.
The Youth Farm Manager Mr. Mustapha Swaray highlighted the key achievements and challenges on the farm in the last two (2) years. The farm covers an area of 250 Acres with 150 acres already prepared for cultivation. Within the farm are greenhouses constructed for vegetable cultivation. Other crops already cultivated in planned plots on the farm include banana, plantain, pineapple, cassava, coconut and pawpaw plantations. He also noted that that the farm cultivation includes about 6.3 acres of Inland Valley Swamps with Nerica Rice (improved variety). The Youth Farm presently has 195 young people workers who are currently on stipends supported by partner organizations.
The farm manager thanked Plan International for particularly supporting the provision of bore holes and water tanks to service the entire farm, as well as the environmental impact assessment and base line studies for the project. He said Plan had provided institutional support, assorted agricultural tools, E-mapping and documentary development and also conducted gender training.
He said the farm is, however, faced with challenges including, financial constraints, technical skills training, and infrastructure including drying floors, store houses and equipment including tractors and processing machines for value additions to farm produce. Other challenges include acquisition of improved crop varieties and crop virus infestation.
The Ghana High Commissioner to Sierra Leone Major General (Rtd.) Carl Modey in his statement expressed his delight on behalf of the government of Ghana to be a part of the initiative. He said the government of Ghana will provide technical support, improved seed varieties and help set up a demonstration farm.
He said this project will further strengthen the relationship between Ghana and Sierra Leone.
His Excellency Mr. Peter Versteg – Head of EU Delegation in Sierra Leone was impressed on his first visit to the Youth Farm. Agriculture he said is the foundation for economic development. He said he is looking forward to proposals to support the project, particularly on livestock.
The visit was climaxed by a conducted tour led by the Farm Manager and Mr. Joseph Konneh, the Program Support Manager – Program Strategy & Development of Plan International – Sierra Leone.
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