Tamba Tengbeh: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 October 2020:
The Sierra Leone Regional Rice Value Chain Project (RRVCP) in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) last week held its inaugural National Steering Committee meeting to discuss the progress. The Committee is responsible for providing high-level policy advice and oversee project implementation.
The Sierra Leone Regional Rice Value Chain Project is jointly funded by the Government of Sierra Leone, the Islamic Development Bank and Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA).
The meeting brought together the Ministers of Gender and Children Affairs, Environment, Trade and Industry, Water Resources, Youth, Finance including the Senior Economist from the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development and other partners in the agriculture sector to approve the annual work plan, budget and the procurement plan for the Regional Rice Value Chain Project .
The overall objective of the RRVCP is to contribute to reducing the high rice importation and enhance economic growth through improved production, processing, and marketing as well as enhancing private sector participation in the country.
Acting Minister of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), Dr. Abu Bakarr Karim disclosed that the $34.12million project will target two districts, Bonthe and Kambia districts, noting that 7000 farmers will be targeted, 5000 in Tormabum (Bonthe) and 2000 in Mambolo/Samu chiefdoms of (Kambia) respectively.
He added that the project is designed for five participating countries in the West Africa sub region (Gambia, Guinea, Niger, Senegal and Sierra Leone) over a period of 10 years.
“Sierra Leone is importing what it can produce in abundance. There is sufficient land suitable for rice farming, with vast grassland agro-ecology zones in the country (bolilands, riverain) and inland valley swamps (IVS) providing best options. It is in this regard, His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio, approached the Islamic Development Bank in 2018, to include Sierra Leone in the Regional Rice Value Chain Programme,” he noted.
Minister Karim informed his gathering that the project is expected to contribute significantly to issues relating to Increasing efficiency along the commodity chain to make price competitive, improve management and quality standard, and creating an enabling policy environment.
He concluded that the Tormabum project is a priority for the government, considering the job opportunities it will create for the youths, reduce rice imports – thus saving much needed foreign exchange for the country.
The Project Coordinator of the Regional Rice Value Chain Project (RRVCP) in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), Abdulai Bun Wai said the project will support smallholder farmers to be organized into productive entities in cultivating the 35, 000 hectares of farmland to increase on their income, reduce poverty and food insecurity, as well as improve the livelihood of rural population.
He noted that the project will contribute to an increased production of rice by 50 %, using the private sector value chain approach with support from other agricultural entities.
Mr Bun Wai explained that 7000 farmers will be supported with certified seed rice and quality fertilizers including the rehabilitation of two mill machines in Tormabum, three storage facilities for farmers, two rural market facilities and capacitate farmer cooperatives ( 45 women and 45 youth groups ).