Science, technology and innovation allow us to leapfrog in development – says president Bio

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 April 2021:

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio today participated in a High-Level Virtual Dialogue on Leveraging Innovation and Technology for Food Systems Transformation in Africa.

The online meeting was organised by IFAD and co-hosted by the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), CGIAR and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, and was aimed at identifying ways to expand activities, financing and partnerships that will leverage innovation and technology to transform food systems in Africa.

The outcomes of the meeting will be shared with the Food Systems Pre-Summit in Rome in July and at the Food Systems Summit in October 2021.

The organisers argued that the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting food security across Africa, “exasperating pre-existing impacts of climate change, rising fragility and conflict, and adverse events, such as locust invasions in East and Southern Africa. Africa must urgently strengthen its food systems as an integral part of efforts to recover from the pandemic and build resilience”.

In his opening statement, President Bio recognised the input of colleagues, and thanking Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of African Development Bank Group, Mr. Gilbert Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President & CEO, Dangote Group and his friend, and Tony Blair, Executive Chairman, Institute for Global Change, for an enlightening opening session.

He observed that shrinking economies all over the world and global supply chain disruptions have further aggravated foreign exchange constraints, adding that augmenting local food supplies is a challenge, given the new reality.

“These disruptions, therefore, leave us with three key questions: a) How do we cope with pre-existing challenges in the agriculture sector especially given COVID-19 disruptions? b) How do we cope with food supply and nutritional deficits, c) How do we plan new investments that can make our food systems more robust and more resilient?

“So, this meeting is very timely as we can share ideas and start thinking collectively about how to resolve some of these challenges and thus improve local food supplies, reduce import substitution, and create sustainable jobs for farmers including youth and women in rural areas.”

President Bio also said that in the last three years his Government has made good progress toward the CAADP commitment of allocating a minimum of 10% of the national budget to agriculture, adding that in 2018 the allocation was about 2.14% and progressed to 4.25% and 6.0 in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

He said the 2021 target is 7% and expected to increase over the next three years to support the new shift in policy.

“I have argued that science, technology, and innovation allow us to leapfrog in development. The same argument holds for agricultural production. To improve yield per acreage, Government research agencies and private actors are working to develop and make improved and adaptable seeds available to farmers,” President Bio said.

2 Comments

  1. A leapfrog strategy is no small feat for leaders still acting like toddlers wearing wet diapers to accomplish. It is a way of quickly surpassing the superior competition in any chosen field of excellence. It usually involves taking one courageous brilliant leap forward that results in an extraordinary economic and financial growth and profit for all the stakeholders that are involved in the entire risk taking process. This is where we disagree. Tiny shrubs do not become giant trees overnight and the process for little caterpillars to become butterflies is a tedious and laborious exercise, not something that happens in the twinkle of an eye. The man in State House is only interested in quick fixes and bypassing the normal credible routes for accomplishing his self-centered policies and ideas – Sustainability is of of no importance to him and his ragtag army of freeloaders milking the system dry.

    A prudent mind with priorities in order won’t choose a Leap frog strategy to move our nation forward because it deprives the masses of the opportunity to witness the dignity, confidence and assurances that come with struggle and overcoming the hurdles we are bound to meet on the paths of progress. Dr Adesina of all people should know that we must first crawl,then take baby steps before we can run and fly.

    Our farmers are poor and uneducated why is he trying to force things down their tiny throats that they won’t be able swallow? Leveraging innovation and modern technology to transform food systems in an African continent lagging far behind the rest of the world is a great idea but not at a time when we are lacking the visionary leadership, will power and expertise to create structures and institutions that will stand the test of time.

  2. Yes we can leapfrog from being a stagnant economy, by using scientific and technological advances in our disposal to produce enough food, and invest in long-term sustainable economic growth. Forty years ago, China was in a similar trajectory of under development, shackled in outdated ideas, agrarian economy, with no hope of ever coming out of the merry go round of hunger and poverty. Then in 1978,the Communist party leadership decided to create economic zones around the country. To experiment with Capitalism , and discontinue with communist dogmas in those special economic zones. Almost forty years later, Chinese government have lifted four hundred million people out of proverty. By 2049, China would have completed building their permanent space station orbiting the earth. From a back water economy to space.We are celebrating sixty years of under development. Whilst China is celebrating forty years of economic growth.

    The reason for that, they have leadership that is there for their people. They love their country and flag. How often do you see Sierra Leonean flag flying out side government buildings? Chances are, you are more likely to see president Bio’s murals on display in our high streets, than our country’s flag. And that is where our lack of love for our country can be seen in full display.The British, the French, the Americans and China, Nigeria, South Africa display their flags on government buildings, why not Sierra Leone? Three years after his election, Bio can’t point at any meaningful projects that will tip the balance in the ordinary man and woman’s life.

    Sometimes, I wonder what goes through Bio’s mind, when he addresses our international partners on some of the issues holding us back to kick start real transformative initiatives, like infrastructure projects, that will set the agenda for change in our country. We are not short of ideas about how to go about doing it. Or invest in people that will make them self sufficient, and lift them out of poverty. As always, Bio like to make the right noises, to our international partners. He knows or apears to know what a country like ours needs to do, to enhance our capabilities for any future development goals. Investing in basic infrastructure projects like good roads, Education, Health care, electricity, clean water, sanitation, agriculture, affordable housing for the poor families, should be the first piriotry of every government that is keen to develop their country. Right now Bio is the biggest log-Jam to any future development goals in our country.

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