German born Dr. Christa Rader Representative and Country Director of the World Food Programme has expressed her organization’s commitment and determination to feed malnourished children in schools with locally milled rice procured from small holder farmers in Sierra Leone.
She made the statement on Wednesday this week at a ceremony held at the Collection Site, Financial and Agricultural Union Largo, in Largo Town, Kenema District witnessed by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, officers of Kenema Local Council, NGOs, small holder farmers Civil Society and women’s groups.
Speaking about the procurement process which culminated in the hand-over of the second consignment of 21.2metric tons of 428 bags of 50kg each of locally produced milled rice procured from two farmers’ organizations; Samie Foluma Development Association and the Financial and Agricultural Union Largo, she said WFP Sierra Leone plans to procure locally produced milled rice, fortified oil and pulses (beans or peas), totaling 5,650 metric tons through a pilot initiative Purchase for Progress (P4P) through competitive tenders. The food will be distributed among 1,3oo primary schools to feed 4,300 children.
“WFP plans to procure at least 2000 metric tons a year from small holder farmers in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and food security so that farmers can produce what their children eat,” she said.
She said the procured food assistance programmes will be provided for school meals, nutritional support to children under 5, pregnant and lactating women and people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as food-for-work and food-for-training in food insecure communities.
Dr Christa Rader expressed gratitude to the Government of Japan for funding the school feeding programme and also commended partners like USAID, World Vision, PAGE and GTZ Sierra Leone for working in poorest communities where food assistance is essential for the growth and health of children.
The Deputy Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security Lovell Thomas assured WFP of Government’s support towards the school feeding programme and the procurement of locally milled rice from small holder farmers as it complements the Government Agenda for food security.
He further spoke about Governments’ plans to support small holder farmers with tractors and other agricultural inputs for mechanized and commercialized farming for quality produce that meets international standards.
The Deputy Minister of Agriculture expressed thanks and appreciation to WFP for the Purchase for Progress initiative(P4P) which empowers farmers and also adds value to produce. He encouraged small holder farmers to work to achieve food security.
Jim Dean of PAGE Sierra Leone said “the locally procured milled rice is of quality grains and commended WFP and the Government of Japan for paying good price for the milled rice and assured small holder farmers of their continued support towards quality food production in Sierra Leone.
Representatives from Financial and Agricultural Union Largo, Samie Foluma Development Association and the Paramount Chief of Nongowa Chiefdom also commended WFP for their support to small holder farmers in the Kenema District and promised to continue with WFP.
Officers from the Kenema Council Agriculture Department said WFP has added value to small holder farmers and appealed for government’s assistance towards mechanized and commercialized farming to feed the people with quality produce.
By Saidu Bah