As food shortage becomes a global crisis, the minister of Agriculture, Dr Sam J Sesay at the official opening of a five-day strategic planning workshop of the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI), yesterday expressed dismay at the present state of the Rokupr Research Centre.In his keynote address, the minister heightened that the Rokupr Research Centre, which was the best in West Africa and a role model in Africa, was now a disappointment.Dr Sesay accentuated that, “I must say this unreservedly that Rokupr has disappointed us for the past couple of years.” He averred that, “there have been serious management problems; issues of mismanagement [have made] the institution not to live up to its traditional role”. Rokupr, he said, “[before now] had a very good history in rice research but that has gone down to the lowest ebb….as we are talking about research strategy we have to look at the institutions themselves.” Speaking on what he described as moving research down stream, he explained that research should be brought close to the target beneficiaries which were farmers.Highlighting his vision for the ministry, he said, “we are having a policy shift in terms of agricultural development… All along we have been looking at agriculture as focusing on poverty alleviation and food security; that is basically looking at the human being and how to ensure that human being is comfortable in terms of poverty and food security.” This perception, he said, “has serious limitation to agricultural growth; agriculture should look beyond that, it should look at the micro-economy,” he said.“We should make agriculture the engine for socio-economic growth and development which looks beyond human beings, and concentrate on how agriculture can create more wealth, employment, and material that will trigger industrialization.”“These are the key issues we have to talk about,” he stressed.The minister explained that research had a key role in looking at these issues highlighted in order to make them subjects of research. “The other aspect in this policy shift is how we look at agriculture itself, traditionally we have been looking at agriculture as production only, we have to shift by looking at agriculture along the agriculture chain. Looking at input supply, production value addition and marketing including export. The fact is that looking at production only, leaving the three others, can not move agriculture in fact it would serve as a disincentive to production,” he said.