The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, has initiated the operation of provincial farmers’ related banks to enhance and seek the financial status of farmers in the country.
This disclosure was made by Dr. Sam Sesay, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, at the weekly press briefing held at the Ministry of information and Communications at Youyi building in Freetown.
Dr. Sesay said that the government has decided to open the village banks so that farmers can have access to financial loans that are very reasonable as compared to loans from other banks.
He added that there are technical officials in the ministry that would train the farmers on how to handle the affairs of the village banking system, adding that the banks will be owned and managed by farmers. “We will open six village banks in Koinadugu district,” he said, adding that his ministry would ensure that the banks are established all over the country. He further said that government has created the environment for agricultural productivity to thrive, stating that swamps are targeted in the promotion of small scale irrigation.
According to the Agriculture Minister, they have also constructed over one hundred and forty-one (141) agricultural business centers in different agricultural areas. He disclosed that each agricultural business center has stores, offices and other necessary facilities to process agricultural products, pointing out that at least each district has one business center.
Dr. Sesay further disclosed that the ministry has constructed over thirty rice mills across the country to ensure swift rice processing, and that the ministry has also distributed about two hundred and thirty-one (231) tractors to farmers in various districts, mostly in the north of the country.
“The north has more bully lands suitable for rice production than any part of the country and the south-east has more forest areas” he said.
The minister pointed out that the demand for tractors from the south was very low as only five tractors were demanded from the ministry, one in Kenema and four in Kailahun.
He however stated that majority of those who had taken the tractors on loan have not paid for them, stating that only fifty people have paid fully.
Dr. Sesay informed journalists that the government is putting mechanism in place to ensure that all those who took the tractors either pay or return them.
He said the problem of agriculture is not limited to production but the processing of products, disclosing that agricultural productivity have been increased over the years.
By Hawanatu Rahman