Felix Gomez, the representative and country director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), has said in an exclusive interview with Awoko at his Tengbeh Town office that Sierra Leone is only meeting 70% of his requirements when it comes to rice production.
He added that their statistics also indicated that when it came to commercial import, the imported rice had been reducing in terms of tonnage. Commercial import in them could not be able close the 30% remaining gap.
According to the country director, the reason might be foreign exchange and therefore using foreign exchange to actually import also meant that “you must be able to have accesses to foreign things which is another constraints”.
Felix Gomez noted that, “when you take a look at production and commercial import unfortunately the two together is not enough to close or meet the requirements which bring the third component which is the food aid”.
The main source of food aid, especially when it comes to Sierra Leone, has been the WFP.
“In the last four years, the tonnage of food especially in terms of serial resources we have been bringing has been decreasing. The reasons for the decreasing are basically the fact that the resources which we get from the donors who support us to bring in this resources has also been decreasing for some time,” he said, adding that “if you look at the area of availability then you actually say that there is lot of work to be done so that we can actually say that we have a lot of resources locally”.
Explaining about food security the country director stated that, “when we talk of food security we actually are looking at three components or principles together which bring about the terminology of food security. The first is called availability and availability comprises three types, availability in the form of local production, availability in the form of commercial import and availability in the form of food aid.
“The second component of food security is called accessibility and it has two components physical access and economic accessibility.”
Explaining about physical access, he pointed out that it must be possible for the farmer or whoever was looking for food to be able to travel to the market area either to sell or buy food.
Defining Economic accessibility, Gomez accentuated that it meant that you must be able to earn income to buy whatever food you want
“The third component is utilization this is basically the bodies’ ability to make use of whatever food is available. When talking about utilization we are looking more at issues connected with health. If you are sick you will not be able top make use of the food when the food is available,” he stated