Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 October 2020:
President Julius Maada Bio last Saturday called on Sierra Leoneans to take up farming so as to help meet the country’s food sufficiency, which could reduce the vast sums of foreign exchange spent on importing rice.
He made this call last week at the Moyamba District Council Hall, during the launch of 14 infrastructure projects delivered by the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) in the South and Eastern Region of Sierra Leone.
President Bio, whose government says it is focusing on the country’s human capital development is also campaigning to increase access to foods through local production.
“We are currently spending huge amount of United States Dollars to import rice. That has a very huge impact on our foreign exchange as the exchange rate is always high. We have enough rainfalls, forests and fertile soil to cultivate our own rice here. If only we sincerely cultivate what we eat, we will stop importing food items that we should not be importing,” he said.
The Sierra Leonean president, who owns farms in the country and says he stopped eating imported rice long before he became president, also called on Paramount Chiefs to establish chiefdom farms, which would subsequently feed the people within their chiefdoms.
“I have told all my ministers, including other political appointees, to embark on farming. Once we do that, basic food items would never be imported, and we will be food sufficient. Prices of foodstuff will never be hiked,” he said.
According to President Bio, his government will ensure that in the future, the Ministry of Finance releases funds to purchase seed rice and distribute them to chiefdom authorities to farm.
The president called on citizens to diversify their diet, saying that there are yams, cassava, plantains, banana, ‘foo-foo’ and other foodstuff, which are locally produced, that could substitute the imported rice.
“The reason for spending lot of United States Dollars on the importation of rice is because most Sierra Leoneans have never opted to eat other foodstuff beside rice. This culture has to change if we want the forex to be stable and also be food sufficient,” he noted.