While Sierra Leone has been improving the basic health indicators, the hunger index remains ‘alarming’ according to the World Bank, Africa Development Fund and Food and Agriculture Organisation 2015/2018 USD 394 million funded proposed draft Investment Plan document for the Sierra Leone Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security Ministry.
This was disclosed yesterday 30th June 2014 at the Hill Valley hotel conference hall during the ministry of Agriculture sector review and forward planning workshop in Freetown.
The draft proposed Investment Plan that was developed by IOS Partners stated that, “in rural areas 54.1 percent of the population is undernourished with 29.1 percent food insecure in urban areas (CFSVA 2012).” The draft investment plan went on that, “there is no sufficient physical capacity of all of the population to successfully develop highly labour intensive agricultural production, not to mention nutritionally diversified production.”
Addressing Local Content Policy, the draft highlighted that, “it is only economies of scale, mechanization and irrigation applied by small, medium and large enterprises that are capable of achieving local staple food sufficiency and competing with imported staple prices and quality.
The nutritional balance according to the plan, will be achieved through development of livestock and fisheries enterprises as well as encouraging the smallholders to take the vegetable, fruit and small ruminants and poultry market niches.”
The agricultural sector according to the draft plan has changed significantly in the last decade as the country is no longer a ‘post conflict country’ where its people are living on subsistence farming due to government efforts through new local and foreign investors intervention.
But however pointed that half the economy is still informal as there is need for government to encourage business to formalize as a great opportunity for growth.
The plan stated that there is lack of information on the private sector because there is no definition of Micro, Small, Medium and Large Enterprise (MSMLEs) with any statistical data on the numbers, turnovers, productivity, and gender of MSMLEs. There is no information on FDI in agriculture because without this information it is not possible to develop effective policies and support for each type of enterprise and also lack of information to the market players that restricts their growth.
Addressing issues of land, the draft highlighted that great opportunities are still locked up in the country land as government has been conducting land reforms with the donor support for the last several years.
However the issues of land management and tenure complicate the agricultural development as the structural changes in the economy will inevitably make people less dependent on land.
The draft Investment plan looks at areas of agricultural Extension and Research, Access to Finance, agricultural inputs and pillar one of the Agenda for Prosperity (AfP) which deals with ‘Economic Diversification and on sector transformation.
The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay said agriculture cannot go alone without adequate and timely updates from sector members including Agriculture, Fisheries and Agro-Industry programs. He said the ASR will provide vital analysis of the sector that could inform the AFAIR including the drivers of growth, public expenditure in the sector and the performance of MAFFS ‘flagship’ Smallholder Commercialization Programme.
Professor Monty Jones pointed out that there is insufficient collaboration among sector partners towards achieving the Agenda for Prosperity especially with the proliferation of projects, very little Monitoring and Evaluation, untimely disbursement of funds and lack of capacity on the ground. He said the country needs foresight thinking of situation to be able to determine what we need in terms of compressive programming toward the success of AfP.
By Mohamed Kabba
Tuesday July 01, 2014