The Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security, Dr Sam Sesay yesterday signed a $450,000 agreement with the FAO Representative Kevin D Gallagher for the support of the National Sustainable Agriculture Development Plan (NSADP).
The Minister have also signed another agreement of $3.1M with the combined support from the African Development Bank, International Fund for Agriculture Development, European Union, World Bank, FAO, UNDP and WFP for the support of the Ministry’s National Agriculture Response Programme (NARP).
Before signing the agreement with the FAO Representative, Dr Sam Sesay explained that NARP was a twin- track programme designed to tackle the global soaring prices of food and to complement actions already taken by the Government such as lowering tariffs, negotiating lower cost rice imports, support of ploughing services and seed harrowing on a wide scale.
Dr Sesay further explained about his ministry’s medium and long term agricultural policies which he said was ongoing as the reduction in import tariffs from 15 to 10% was made and also the use of tractorization country wide. He thus stated that apart from the 141 tractors presently working, Government have approved the purchase of 99,000 bushels of seed rice with modalities under way for their procurement and their distribution to mainly tractorization farmers.
With the medium to long term, he said his ministry shall continue extensive methods using labour-saving machinery such as tractors and power tillers, HYVs and agrochemicals. Also to reform and build the capacity of farmer-based organizations to assert their rightful position in the market in order to maximize returns to their investment and to strengthen the private sector through agricultural investment incentives and capacity building.
The FAO Representative, Kevin D Gallagher remarked that drought in some countries and the economic problems in other areas have placed immense pressure on the global prices. He mentioned other pressures like the use of bio-fuels, the subsidy on grains and the rapid change in the international market, high oil prices have all assisted to complement issues.
NARP will provide net support to the most vulnerable families in rural and peri- urban areas as well as much needed production support to well organized small scale farmer producer organizations whilst the NSADP programme initiates planning for immediate implementation specific to the needs of districts and chiefdoms to achieve sustained growth without undermining their own natural resource base.
By Ishmael Bayoh