After receiving gift items from the farmers, President Koroma pointed out that farming has a great potential, and that if we focus on farming there is the tendency to forget about mining. He said that farming should be the backbone of the economy, and as such the association is expected to provide the direction for farmers.
“There is need to look at farming, as we strive to eradicate poverty,” he said. The President then stressed that targeting farming as an activity would not only provide enough food, but also the needed foreign exchange earnings. Thus, there is need to reflect on past activities in order to make way for the future.
President Koroma admonished the farmers to restructure the association and also commercialize activities in order to expand the scale of activities, as exports are not enough to meet the demands. He then promised to facilitate the visit of Ministry officials and farmers to neighboring countries for them to be able to get first-hand experience of farming activities in other countries. The government would take the responsibility of providing the necessary implements to fast track the work of farmers, as we cannot continue importing food items like rice, he said.
The President then called for a change of attitude as he cautioned them to put politics out of farming. He advised them to introduce irrigation schemes to enhance produce. The President also noted that his government is presently engaged in putting the Energy Sector under control, after which his next focus would be to repair tractors in a bid to change the posture of farming. He then called on the farmers to come up with ideas and proposals to improve farming, as Food Security is a must. “I will not wait for you to come and see me at State House, but I will go out and meet you to ensure that things work properly”, he said.
The Minister of Agriculture, Hon Sam Sesay, in his contribution, noted that the Farming constituency is the largest as sixty percent (60%) of the population are actively engaged in farming. He said that the role of farmers is very important, especially in the fight against hunger and poverty.
He pointed out that he had earlier served in the Ministry as a professional staff, and that he was instrumental in forming this association. He then intimated that the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has approved a technical program for farmers which would commence later this year.
The President of the Farmers Association P.C Luseni Kappen noted that the purpose of the meeting is to congratulate the President on his assumption of office, to commend the President for appointing Sam Sesay as Minister and to appraise the President on the role and activities of the association. He pointed out that the association was established in 1987, with the intention of seeking the welfare of farmers. The process, he said, was democratic and assistance given by government, with elections conducted by NEC. He said that the challenges faced by the association calls for a new agenda if food security is to be achieved. He then called for support, especially in capacity building in order to promote and enhance food production by 2010. Contributions were also made by Zainab Adams, Hon P.C Kebbay and Olu Thomas, the northern, southern and western representatives respectively