The Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Forestry has on Wednesday 4th October 2020 engaged the leadership of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) to assess and evaluate the programs and activities of the Ministry in an aspiration to determine their promptness in moving forward the agricultural sector. The meeting was held at the ministry’s main conference hall, Youyi Building Freetown.
Giving an update on the Ministry’s programs and activities thus far, the Acting Minister of Agriculture and Forestry – Dr. Abubakarr Karim expressed his utmost estimation to the parliamentary oversight committee for spearheading such a productive engagement. He furthered on the note that; agriculture remains key priority under the new direction – for which he said through a concerted effort with the private sector and all other agricultural development partners, the Ministry has been able to implement vigorous agricultural policies which have made it possible for the sector to score significant goals including but not limited to the rehabilitation and maintenance of 162km of feeder roads in 6 districts, establishment of the Sierra Leone Agribusiness Development Fund (SLADF) with 16 agribusinesses being supported with an average of about $300,000, supported Njala University to conduct National Soil Survey, contracted the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI) to establish 15Ha of cocoa seeds in the Pendembu and Kpuwabu Research Stations with elite cocoa materials – all of these are among several other development indicators met by the ministry, he maintained . He added that; the Ministry is working relentlessly to bring to reality agricultural projects that would target the areas on; Rapid Onion Production, National Inland Valley Swamps (IVS) Tree Crops and Rice Production. He however lamented that regardless of all these successes scored so far, the Ministry is still faced with challenges on the areas of; limited access to agricultural financing largely due to limited and irregular government budgetary allocation, insufficient mobility to provide extension service, high demand for limited available machinery and limited private sector involvement. But he strongly reassured the Parliamentary Oversight Committee that all or some of these challenges would be addressed by the recently popularised Agricultural policy shifts which target to address age-old problems on Agricultural mechanization, Agricultural Input Delivery, Agricultural Financing and Agricultural Advisory.
In a response to the activities of the Ministry, the Chairman for the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, Mr. Salliue Osman Sesay said he is elated to learn about the latest developments under the Ministry. He reassured the Ministry about their commitment to supporting the agricultural sector through a speedy facilitation of adequate budgetary allocation. He added also that; as part of the challenges faced by the Ministry, the committee will support the efforts of the ministry to ensure that a 5% of the country’s total GDP is allocated to the production of rice in the country. He however cautioned that; the Policy Shifts of the Ministry should be diligently implemented so they could serve their right purposes.
The engagement was climaxed courtesy of concerns raised by other members from the Parliamentary Oversight Committee who called on the Ministry to double up their efforts at every level of policy implementation. They entreated the ministry to pay keen attention to the policy shifts, especially the policy shift on Mechanization which is to be implemented under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to manage the 250 tractors the government through MAF has procured.
Agricultural Information and Communications Unit.
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry