Efforts by the Japanese Government to render support to Sierra Leone’s food security drive has resulted in the implementation of a mega rice project, totaling $1.25m specifically in Buya Romende Chiefdom-Port Loko District.
Residents of villages in the Chiefdom were, in the past week, fascinated by a high-powered delegation comprising officials from the World Food Programme (WFP), Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and a representative of the Japanese Consul, who stormed Makin Village in Buya Romende to perform the official launching of the multi-million Leones project.
The sustainable rice production project, which is going to be implemented for a period of five years, is a financial support provided by the Ministry of Agriculture in Japan to WFP to actualize the government’s food security drive through the distribution of seed rice to farmer households in the chiefdom.
Other implementing partners including Brac and Cotton Tree Foundation have been contracted in the implementation of the project in Inland Valley Swamps which is targeted at distributing 150 tons of rice within the period of five years.
The bilateral project aims at rehabilitating 106 hectares of unproductive swampland and train farmers to improve rice production and post-harvest management techniques within the target period, and link the rice production with markets to facilitate commercialization through the WFP’s Purchase for Progress Initiative.
The WFP Country Director, Gon Myers noted that the project; being implemented in both Sierra Leone and Liberia, further aims at benefiting 450 households. He said that irrigational facilities and other farming technologies that will enhance sustainable rice production will be provided through training opportunity in the course of the project.
He said that at the start of the project this year, 70-80 tons of rice will be given out to farmer households, with each receiving about 3kilogram of rice per day based on the magnitude and quality of work.
The Director assured that the project will provide support for vegetable production to ensure nutritional value and balanced diet.
As a result, he said, the WFP has given out a consignment of locally produced rice bought from organizations belonging to government’s Agri-Business Centers (ABC’s) that are promoted by smallholder commercialization Programmes to be used for feeding purposes within the life-span of the project.
Representative of the Japanese Consul, Yukari Hara said that apart from the Japanese Government’s effort in helping Sierra Leone in its post-war recovery drive through JICA projects.
She said that their country’s bilateral relationship has also facilitated the implementation of the food security project for smallholder farmers so that they can help in the improvement of the quality of life.
She anticipated that before the expiration of the five years project, the Government will be delighted to see a significant gain in the area of food security in Sierra Leone, so that it will be used as a paradigm for similar projects in other parts of Africa.
The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Lovell Thomas, in his keynote remarks and official launching of the project said that “the beneficiaries should count themselves very lucky for such a project at their door-steps.” He urged them to harness the opportunity so that the drive of the prosperity Agenda will quickly be realized.
However, he assured the implementing partners of the ministry’s technical support for the project, being that its element is part of the agricultural drive of the nation. And that they will ensure that the project becomes a success story so that it will be implemented in other parts of the country.
By Poindexter Sama
Monday June 02, 2014