When President Ernest Bai Koroma visited India early this year a lot of Sierra Leoneans were unsure why he made such a little publicized trip, and the Information Minister was left with the task of explaining the reason for the President’s trip.
However on Friday 28th August the fruits of this largely successful trip were revealed when some 265 tractors complete with several transplanters, farming implements, herbicides and various other agricultural equipment were unveiled at the Ministry of Agriculture ware house at Kissy Dockyard.
This is the first phase of a $15 million line of credit from the Indian government which was secured through the initiative of the President during his visit to India and which is now being actualized through the Indian Import and Export Bank to the government of Sierra Leone to help boost the infrastructure in the Agricultural sector.
The 265 tractors and other equipments will now be utilized appropriately by the Ministry of Agriculture to realize the dream of food self sufficiency which is at the heart of the Presidents program of empowering the private sector for real economic growth.
40 of the tractors were driven through the streets of Freetown last Friday and the use of the combined transplanter was demonstrated at Ogoo Farm.
The second phase of the line of credit will be the erection of 30 rice mills in yet to be determined locations complete with dry floors all over the country. This phase is expected to start as the rainy season draws to an end.
After the line of credit was approved by the Indian government an international tender process was launched for Indian companies with the capacity to supply the required equipment promptly and appropriately. Angelique International Limited an internationally renowned, project engineering, procurement and construction won the contract and set out to fulfill the terms which demand that 85% of the equipment procured should be Indian products and the balance 15% can be procured from other countries. Six Sierra Leonean technicians from the Ministry of Agriculture were sent to India, where they were trained on the workings of the equipment, and on their return, they were able to assemble all 265 tractors here in Freetown. The technicians will be equipped with a state of the art – both mobile and fixed workshop along with ample spare parts for proper maintenance of the equipment. A landing craft will also be provided for transporting of equipment by sea especially in the Torma Bum area.
General Manager of Angelique International Limited Inder Amret Anand noted that “$15 million is not enough to build up the agriculture infrastructure (but) the Sierra Leone government is working towards development in this sector and it is important that this initiative is being recognized.”
The local partners of Angelique International are D&S Associates.