Stakeholders in the Agricultural Sector in Sierra Leone have commenced a two -day forum to tackle the challenges facing urban agriculture in maximizing food production; with an improved Marketing, Storage and linking of Farmers with hotels and exporters, at the 2nd floor Youyi Building in Freetown.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security organized the forum in collaboration with the Freetown Urban Agriculture and Peri-urban Agriculture (FUPAP) Resource Centers on Urban Agriculture and Food Security Foundation E.T.C Holland (RUAF) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).
In addressing, the growing demand for food production in urban areas, FUPAP has designed a pilot project for urban poverty reduction, with an improved urban environmental management by assisting the City Authorities in recognizing the benefits of urban agriculture for maximum food production for the people.
The Director-General at the Ministry of Agriculture, FAR Sankoh expressed gratitude to all stakeholders who have been very instrumental in the pilot project to enhance water management, and land use for urban planning for the formulation of a legal framework to protect urban farmers as land grabbing and deforestation are seriously affecting farmers in urban areas.
He expressed commitment and determination in working with the project to achieve food security in urban areas, where the demand for food has increased drastically; and promised to provide technical expertise and an office space for the smooth running of the project.
Dr Saidu Kanu, Liaison Officer and Researcher at the Njala University College, gave a historical background of the project since its inception in 2006 and further spoke about the need to empower urban farmers for the maximization of food production.
He averred that the goal of the project is to support City Authorities in reducing poverty with an improved urban environmental management; ranging from production, processing, distribution and marketing of agricultural produce.
Marielle Dubbeling of the Resource Center on Urban Agriculture and Food Security Foundation E.T.C Holland spoke about lessons learnt with other partner cities around the world that are involved in urban agriculture to alleviate poverty; and related it to Sierra Leone with a strategy to be implemented for the way forward in food production and environmental management.
Theophanous Labie, the Ghanaian Coordinator for Urban Agriculture in Anglophone West Africa shared experiences with stakeholders at the forum on the way forward and spoke about policies that would make the project a reality and appealed to stake holders to support the project for the rapid development of the Country.
By Saidu Bah