Farmers in the northern region of Sierra Leone have embraced the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) that seeks to eradicate poverty and boost the economy.
CAADP is the product of the efforts made by African governments, within the framework of the African Union (AU), New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) initiative, to speed up growth, eradicate poverty and hunger in African countries.
President Ernest Koroma and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) Dr Sam Sesay have been crowned by AU as champion President and champion Minister of CAADP.
Over the weekend, the sensitization Committee on CAADP process dialogued with farmers, districts directors, councilors and journalists from the northern region on CAADP in Makeni city hall.
CADDP Consultant Prince Kamara said that the overriding goal of CAADP is to help African countries increase their economic growth through agriculture-based development, which eradicates hunger, reduces poverty and food insecurity and makes it possible to increase exports.
He added that, CAADP operates under the aegis of the AU, coming from African governments and entirely belonging to them and led by them.
Kamara said there are four sub-programmes identified under the National Sustainable Agriculture Development Plan (NSADP).
The first he said, is commodity commercialization; this he explained will increase the productivity through appropriate technologies and providing access to markets for selected commodities. Thereby increasing the percentage in total production and processing of selected commodities and increasing the percentage in total export and sales of selected commodities.
The second he said, is agriculture infrastructure development; this Kamara said will develop appropriate infrastructure of public goods in nature to support agricultural development and storage facilities.
Those of the most immediate need are rehabilitation of 2,055 Km feeder roads, development of 241,000 irrigable swamps, rehabilitation of storage and processing facilities and equipment and construction of fish harbors, processing facilities and equipment.
The third, he explained is the private sector promotion; this he noted will provide a conducive environment and incentives for Agri-business and fisheries development and investment into large scale.
The fourth, he stated is Coordination and Management; this he explained will develop appropriate capacities for the effective management of the programme and governance structures.
According to him, based on the findings and recommendations from the six thematic groups, chiefdom survey, stock taking, economic modeling and national consultations all of these put together suggest that if Sierra Leone fully developed the agriculture sector it will strengthen the economy.
Prince Kamara stated that major findings of the modeling undertaken, using various tools were that for maximum impact towards achieving the MDG-1 (poverty and hunger reduction) the focus must be on rice, cassava, and oil palm; fishery and non timber products.
The Consultant disclosed that on the 17th and 18th September the round table signing of the CAADP compact will take place in Sierra Leone with the presence of different African Heads of States, international donors among others.
Aruna Augustine Kamara head of the Northern region sensitization committee gave an over view of the CAADP / NSADP Communication Strategy.
Councilor Morlai Samura from Koinadugu district council commended the consultant and his team for enlightening them about CAADP. He asked that emphasis be put on rural infrastructure.
He said they (farmers in Koinadugu) are ready to work with the government to achieve their dreams.
Haja Linda Sesay Koinadugu District Director suggests that NGO funding agriculture should consult the district’s director for them to be fully involved.
Suliaman Samura from Port Loko District said that government should look for manpower that will be applicable to the grassroots farmers.
Sattia Marah from the Kabala women farmers association said that they are engaged in farming but are not getting benefits from it. She asked that government help them with processing equipments and stores for their products.
At the end of the programme, a sub sensitization committee was formed.
The sensitization committee also held radio discussions.
By Abibatu Kamara