In Port Loko district, 2 farmer associations yesterday passed on to 2 other farmer associations what is known as “a gift”. This is when the association gives back what was given to them to farm or multiply and keep the proceeds. The associations that passed on the gift were the Rolal Youth Development Association and the Kamuyu Development Group while the recipients were Kamalo and Tamaraneh farmers Associations.
Country Director of Heifer International, Rashid Sesay said his organization started operations in Sierra Leone in 2008 with the aim to improve the life of people living in rural and slum areas. He said they work on the philosophy of passing on the gift. Through this, according to Sesay, they can provide agricultural seeds like rice and groundnut to farmers who will after harvest then pass it to another farmer for the same process.
Sesay said they also give livestock such as a pair of goats to farmers who rear them and give back the young after procreation. The parents are passed on to another farmer.
In achieving the success of the project Mr. Sesay explained that the organization provide training for the community people. These include Heifer’s 12 cornerstones including skills, leadership and group management, livestock and crop integration, animal wellbeing, and community animal health workers. These workers who were trained to look after these animals and other duties will in turn pass the knowledge to their successors to complement the idea of passing on the gift.
He said Rolal Youth Development Association will pass on the gift to Kamalo farmers association in Kamalo village, and Kamuyu Community Development group to pass on the gift to Tamaraneh Farmers Association in Mafoki village.
Mr. Sesay said they also operate in Kailahun District in the Eastern region and have about 600 communities within which they operate. He encouraged the people to make good use of the opportunity.
The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security Ali B. Mansaray thanked Heifer International for their humanitarian support to the people saying he believed Heifer is among the best. He encouraged Heifer to continue their “good work” by giving support to the people as “the hand that gives gets”. He encouraged the new beneficiary farmers to ensure they work hard so as to comply with the spirit of passing the gift to another group. He emphasised that the people needed food for their wellbeing, not just carbohydrate.
Mansaray encouraged Heifer to stretch their project to other parts of the country, not only Port Loko and Kailahun District.
Philip Conteh, the Port Loko District Agriculture Officer lauded the effort of Heifer in his chiefdom and said that they were looking forward to other humanitarian organizations to help in their chiefdom.
Madam Patricia F. Sonkoi, who represented PASS ON THE GIFT, said they were happy because they were able to fulfil their commitment to the project and could now pass on the gift to other groups who they had successfully trained to implement and pass on the gift in future to other groups.
She encouraged their successors to handle the gifts properly and if they encountered any problem in future their doors would always be open to assist so that the project would last in their community.
In appreciation Mr. Abu Koroma representing the recipient thanked God for “this wonderful opportunity” given to them by Heifer International. He said Heifer staff were the only people that did not receive money from them as registration fees. All other workers who visited them in their various villages, he went on, asked them to pay some amount as registration fees.
At the close of the ceremony, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security Ali B. Mansaray then passed on the gift of two goats to the first recipient by the name of Maseray Kargbo from Mafuki Village, a bag of seed rice or groundnut, while the other recipients were later given their gift by other well wishers.
By Alhaji Manika Kamara