Action Aid Sierra Leone during the launch of its ‘HungerFree’ Campaign last Saturday at the Miatta conference hall simultaneously launched a research report.
The report, entitled “Tracking Delivery of Government Support and Assessing Access for Poor Rural Farmers Especially Women in Sierra Leone,” is to give a clear perspective on how accessible are government support and services such as seeds, fertilizers, tools, tractors and extension services to poor rural farmers as the provision of these services is key to the realization of President Kabbah’s pledge which seeks to provide food for all and come up with recommendations for the way forward.
This research, according to the researchers, came in the face of the fact that on 19 May 2002, President Tejan Kabbah pledged that by 2007 no Sierra Leonean should go to bed hungry.
This is in line with Goal 1 of the Millennium Development Goals which seeks to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 which was a broad based policy objective that took into consideration many factors for it to be achieved.
The report holds that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS) was charged with the responsibility of fulfilling this pledge and they came up with a mission statement in which they sought to improve agricultural productivity by providing the enabling environment for farmers, and promoting, among others, input delivery thereby improving rural farmers’ income.
The survey targeted the farming population of the randomly selected areas within ActionAid operational districts of Kambia, Bombali, Bo, Kono, and in the Western Area. In Kambia district, Masungbala and Samu Chiefdoms were selected; in Bombali district Makari Gbanti and Paki Masambo were selected; in Kono, Fiama and Tankoro Chiefdoms were selected; in Bo district, Baoma and Wonde Chiefdoms were selected, while in the Western Area, only York was selected.
Interviews were also conducted using a check list on the MAFS District Directors and representatives of the National Association of Farmers of Sierra Leone (NAFSL) at district level.
The research came out with key findings and made recommendations, but all of these are geared towards the global campaign to halve hunger by 2015, and it is expected that the survey would provide the basis for an informed judgment on the need to urgently review the current mode of access by poor rural farmers to Government support and services in the agriculture sector, with a heavy bias in favour of the women farming population and on the whole help government to develop policies which will help Sierra Leone meet its food security goal.