Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 December 2018:
Last Wednesday, 12 December 2018, president Julius Maada Bio launched the Quality Produce Fair organised by the Sierra Leone Produce Marketing Board (SLPMB) in Kenema.
The week-long event, the first in more than thirty years, brings together farmers and agricultural organisations from across the country, showcasing the quality of their farm produce.
In his keynote address, President Bio thanked the SLPMB for organising the event.
The event will help promote the production of high quality crops in the country and increase the profitability of local farms.
The President also said that Sierra Leone must not only be seen as a mining country but as a country that can grow foods for its people as well as export for economic gain.
He assured the participating farmers that his government would provide the requisite support to farmers and farming organisations, so as to enable them produce high quality crops.
“The international pricing of products is based on quality. If we do not improve on the quality of our products it will be difficult to realise huge profit. My government wants to ensure that farmers get the desired profit from their labour by producing high quality goods.
“While government provides the necessary support, we also want to encourage the youth to be involved in farming. Agriculture is an important source of employment for our youth. We must all take agriculture seriously. Our country can achieve a lot if we invest in large scale agriculture,” he said.
Executive Director of the SLPMB, Dr James Vibbi, said the event was organised for the first time under his leadership after thirty years of absence.
Vibbi said that since he took over, he has streamlined the institution and increased its effectiveness, and spoke about his determination to help government raise export revenue.
He said that he is working closely with the private sector and other government institutions to become effective and capable of delivering the organisation’s mandate.
He said that under his leadership, the institution has been able to close some financial leakages which has resulted in increased revenue collection.
Minister of Trade and Industry, Peter Bayuku Conteh, said the new government was ready to promote and invest in agriculture.
He mentioned that his ministry was ready to open the market space in the country so that businesses could thrive, adding that the government was determined to ensure that people have the space to sell their produce.
He disclosed that government was working to provide cash and training support to farmers and agricultural enterprises.
The objective of his ministry in the next five years, he said, is to provide every district with a factory that could manufacture home grown products for export.
He added that government will restart the Koindu International Market so as to rekindle trade with Liberia.
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Joseph Jonathan Ndanema, said his ministry would help farmers to grow sufficient food both for local consumption and for export to increase the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
He said that the priority for his ministry is to produce rice at industrial scale and make it affordable to every Sierra Leonean.
Chairman Council of Paramount Chiefs, Ahmed Sheku Fasuluku Sonsiama, said: “As custodians of the land, we are ready to support government in its programmes. We assure you of our unflinching support as you move towards transforming our country.”