The minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Dr Joseph Sam Sesay, yesterday revealed to Awoko at his Youyi building office that his government was trying to handle the current food security drive in the country.
He disclosed that the SLPP government supplied between 2004 and 2006 over half a million bushels worth 19.3 billion Leones but that there was no recovery at all from these farmers.
According to Dr Sesay, his ministry was able to discover the problem recently and revealed that the next line of action to be taken by his ministry was to investigate further the issue and then call in the necessary authorities for the law to take its course. This problem, he said, incapacitated his ministry from buying seeds for farmers although they were looking out for funds to buy seed rice in the next two weeks.
Speaking on current efforts by the government to pursue its food security programme, the minister said they introduced the ‘tractorization’ programme which was aimed at providing tractors for farmers throughout the country and that at the moment, there were 141 tractors in the country.
He explained that the distribution of the tractors to farmers throughout the country was based on a number of criteria. He revealed that tractors were given out to farmers only in an area with 400 acres in an effort to maximize the use of the tractors. “It must be a group as that will help us. Also farmers should be prepared to provide petroleum product which costs 43% of cost in ploughing one acre”, the minister said.
He further revealed that an estimate by the ministry showed that the demand for the tractors was overwhelming and as a result they were in need of an additional 103 tractors to satisfy such a demand as “the demand is particularly so in Bombali, Tonkolili, Pujehun, Bonthe and Port Loko”, the minister revealed.
Dr Joseph Sam Sesay also disclosed to Awoko that, cabinet has approved the procurement of rice for the ‘tractorization’ programme.
On the issue of monitoring the tractorization project, the minister said the ministry’s district directors were helping in that direction and that another layer of monitoring was at the headquarter where they had teams that normally go to the provinces to monitor what is happening.
He acknowledged that the supply of fertilizer to farmers could also help in addressing the food security drive but that it was difficult to provide fertilizers to farmers due to budgetary provisions at the moment.
“We want to use the non government budget means by approaching FAO to help in providing agro-chemicals and more seed rice”, he stated, adding the government was determined to ensure food security for all By John Baimba Sesay