A research report entitled: “Tracking Delivery of Government Support and Assessing Access for Poor Rural Farmers Especially Women in Sierra Leone,” recently launched by ActionAid Sierra Leone recommends that for the country to achieve President Kabbah’s pledge and meet the first objective of the MDGs, the amount of seed rice given to farmers must be increased to meet the recommended standard of 2.5Bu per household.
The report also points out that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS) must put in place modalities for the formation and registration of farmers groups/associations and must be made mandatory for women to be represented at every committee within the group/association.
It holds that women should be encouraged to go into farming through the provision of special facilities such as farming equipment and credit.
Even though the MAFS has manifested itself to be the most important source of input, the report goes further to state, such an activity must be decentralized to farmers’ associations that will in turn work closely with organized groups/associations at community level.
“The process of buying seed rice for farmers must be left purely in the hands of the Seed Multiplication Project (SMP) since they have the requisite qualification for the assessment of quality seed rice,” the ActionAid report directs.
It stipulates that Government, through the SMP, must put in place modalities for the early (timely) distribution of inputs to farmers.
The number of Field Extension Workers (FEWs) should be increased and supported with the necessary logistics so as to make themselves accessible to farmers.
The report also recommends that a policy should be put in place to allow MAFS meet the cost of operating the machines for at least three years so as to put the farmers on a better footing to expand on farming and that government should rectify the seed policy and pass to law so that they will be held accountable by farmers in case they failed to abide by it. (Seed policy to address the issue of Genetically Modified seeds etc, and role of Multi National Companies)
The ActionAid report finally directs that Government should expedite the implementation of the Abuja Declaration on fertilizer so that all farmers will have access to fertilizers at affordable cost.
These recommendations come in the face of a global hunger free campaign which is being spearheaded by the ActionAid in Sierra Leone.
The campaign, according to the ActionAid Director Tennyson Williams, is to get all leaders including the Sierra Leone government to eradicate extreme poverty by the year 2015