The Bombali District Council has distributed eighty bags of groundnuts and Le 2, 600, 000 (two million six hundred thousand Leones) to thirteen chiefdoms and three youth groups as part of efforts to boost food production in the district.
The seeds and cash distribution took place at the Eric Dura Council Hall on Friday, 4th April 2014 aims at improving agriculture and encouraging youth to have interest in agriculture as a form of employment.
The Minister of Agriculture Dr. Sam Sesay described the project as “a pace setter” that other councils can emulate. He noted the importance of the project to both council and the youth stating that if it is successful, food security will be guaranteed in the country. He encouraged the beneficiaries to be “business-minded” as agriculture can be a sure way to wealth and an improved standard of life when treated as a business.
Dr. Sesay revealed that government through his Ministry supports farmers in small and large scale farming and has moves a step forward into commercial agriculture. He said in 2009 over 300 tractors were distributed to farmers on loan to boost and expand on farm sizes and that most of those tractors were later owned by those farmers.
The Agriculture Minister said a survey conducted in 2008 on bank transactions indicated that out of every Le 100 million deposited by Sierra Leoneans, only Le 4 million goes to the agricultural sector which according to him, provides the country income. He said the country’s financial systems are not agriculture friendly on which note, the Minister stated, they have started Community Banks through support from IFAD, to issue soft loans to farmers.
Minister Sam Sesay encouraged youth in Bombali to participate in the scheme in order to boost food production in the district and to fight hunger as an aspect of poverty.
The Bombali District Council, Chairman John Shanghai Koroma said he is happy that part of his dreams are coming to reality, pointing out that President Ernest Bai Koroma has set a pace which other politicians should emulate. He thanked the Ministry of Agriculture for collaborating with his council to boost agricultural activity in the district with youth effectively brought onboard.
John Shanghai Koroma said the projects are aimed at developing chiefdoms youth farms in the 13 chiefdoms in the district with additional 3 farms to Ataya base group, women’s group and APC youth wings from funds generated from their revolving fund from chiefdoms tax payment.
He said the decision to target youths came out of the realization that youths are very energetic and can work on large areas of farm, if they are empowered by state actors and their leaders.
Madam Florence Koroma said youths have demonstrated of late, their willingness to take on active farming activities by forming themselves into chiefdom agricultural group and that they have also come up strongly to identify themselves with council.
She said the country developed as a result of total commitment from all citizens especially on agriculture, as she called on them to take responsibility of the project.
Bombali district youth council; Chairman, Ibrahim Jalloh described youths as “problem solvers” and “constructive elements” rather than being problem shooters and destructive elements, as it was perceived all along.
He expressed their readiness to move from backyard farming into mechanized farming but however informed that tractorization is expensive and not affordable. Ibrahim Jalloh said they want affordable tractors, access to fertilizers, insecticide, among other materials that influence agricultural work to progress. He pledged their commitment towards the project and called for government’s additional support for continuity of the project in the district.
By Mohamed Kabba
Tuesday April 08, 2014