Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 December 2019:
Government Chief Minister David Francis, yesterday officially opened the Third Quality Agriculture Produce Fair (QPF) in Kenema, to showcase the best of the country’s farming enterprises and produce.
Speaking on behalf of president Bio who would normally have been present, and for the agriculture ministry, the Chief Minister said that the Government of Sierra Leone is determined to transform the agriculture sector and restore food self-sufficiency in the country.
The chief minister who has come under a lot of pressure after allegations of a $1.5 million corruption, said that the Bio-led government is committed to supporting farmers and farmer co-operations across the country, in order to empower rural farmers to export their produce. Apart from the free quality education, the government’s second priority is agriculture, he said.
“A country will never develop if it fails to feed its people. That is why His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio came here in Kenema last year, for the first time after his 2018 elections victory, to launch the QPF. The President in his speech assured you all of his Government’s commitment to revamping the agricultural sector,” he noted.
David Francis added that the annual agriculture produce fair is aimed at showcasing the hardwork of farmers, giving excellence to those with quality harvest and motivate others to emulate the winners.
Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Edward Hinga Sandi and his deputy – Rev. Abraham Sesay-Jones, spoke about the significance of farming in Sierra Leone, especially of growing cash crops that are helping to develop the economies of Ivory Coast and Ghana.
They pledged Government’s continuous commitment to supporting agriculture, which could help reduce the importing of foods – especially rice, as well as promote economic diversification and employment.
The Executive Chairman of the Produce Monitoring Board, Dr. James Vibbi, said that the theme of this year’s event is “Quality Produce for Sustainable Development”, adding that without quality produce there would be no value-added; as he urges all farmers to register their business with the Government.
The Cocoa of Excellence Award was given to Sahr Bangura from Kono as the best farmer in Sierra Leone. Presenting the award to Sahr Bangura on behalf of the Government, the Chief Minister congratulated Mr Bangura for making Sierra Leone proud. He encouraged the farmer to do more, urging others to emulate his performance.
During his tour of the various farm stalls, the Chief Minister visited the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau, where he said: “Our Government takes the Bureau very seriously because we cannot achieve quality export without conformity assessment from the Bureau.”
Photo: Chief Minister David Francis having a brief chat with Mr. Tamba Kamanda, Manager of the Product Certification Department at the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau.