(Turmabum, Southern Province – 11th June, 2021) His Excellency Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio has on Saturday, 11th June 2021 launched the 31.4 Million USD Regional Rice Value Chain Project in Turmabum, Southern Sierra Leone.
His Excellency fully assured that achieving food security through sustainable agriculture remains a national agenda for ending hunger and starvation and boosting the country’s human capital development index.
While making a keynote address in the presence of locals, development partners, members of the diplomatic and consular corps, the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and BADEA, His Excellency maintained that the project is designed to benefit over 7,000 women and youth farmers, along with 35,000 farming families. He continued on the note that the country has a vast arable land that is endowed with consistent rain fall and favourable weather conditions, yet we are still faced with challenges on the importation of rice largely due to the lack of sustainable agricultural investment plans over the years, as this has been triggering his government to spend hundreds of millions of USD every year in the importation of rice and other assorted food items into the country. He therefore said instead of taking short-cuts and populous agricultural interventions for political propaganda, his government has come up with a permanent fix – a long term solution that will strengthen the participation of the private sector and by extension cut down the huge revenue that government continue to spend to import rice into the country.
Vice President Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh who doubled as the chair-person for the occasion thanked IDB and BADEA for the timely support rendered to the country’s agricultural sector, affirming that the project is not only a national goal for the president and his government, but it is also a huge achievement for the country at large. He reassured that the anticipated outcome of the project will drastically save government revenue and cut down large scale importation of rice.
Minister of Agriculture and Forestry – Dr. Abubakarr Karim reaffirmed that the project will cater job opportunities for the locals, cut down the importation of rice, and compliment the country’s aspiration for food self-sufficiency by 2023.
While presenting certificates to farmers for their tremendous contributions into the agricultural sector, Dr. Karim also crowned President Bio as chief farmer and declared First Lady Fatima Bio as champion of agriculture.
Dr. Karim concluded by thanking all those present in this milestone occasion and encouraged the farmers and all private and non-private agricultural development partners to continue giving their full support to revive the agricultural sector.
Paramount Chief Alex Maada J.J Kainpumu 11 appreciated President Bio and his government for giving them the opportunity to host this special occasion. He assured that they would take ownership of the project to make sure that its desired benefit for the government and people of Sierra Leone is fully realised.
The Turmabum Rice Project is a 31.4 Million USD financed by the GoSL, IDB, and BADEA and is designed to benefit 5000 beneficiaries in Turmabum (Bonthe District), and 2000 beneficiaries in Samu and Mambolo (Kambia District) for a period of 5 years.