UAE’s Elite Agro is to invest in food production in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 October 2019:

President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone last Saturday, met with Sultan Alshamsi – the Chairman of Elite Agro in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), where they discussed investment opportunities for food cultivation in Sierra Leone.

Elite Agro is the leading producer and distributor of agricultural commodities in the UAE. It is involved in growing, sourcing, importing and marketing a wide range of high-value agricultural products, using cutting-edge technology and effective distribution chain; and achieving optimum economic use of natural resources. The company operates in several countries in Africa and around the world.

Speaking to the company executives, President Bio said that food security is an important part of his government’s human capital development priority, especially the improvement of farming productivity which he said is central to the country’s overall development plans.

He said his government is encouraging investments in the agricultural sector, so as to produce more food, create jobs, and reduce the importation of basic foods – particularly rice which is the staple food of Sierra Leone.

The president noted that Sierra Leone is an ideal location for agriculture because of its fertile land and weather, and given the required modern technology, the country could return to its past glory of once again becoming a rice exporting nation.

He also mentioned that he is looking at possible ways of achieving technology and skills transfer to local farmers and communities, as an effective approach to removing millions of people out of poverty.

“We want to produce more food to feed our people and reduce rice importation; as well as begin to export food items to other parts of the world. We have landed the African Free Trade which means we also have a big market of 1.2 billion people to sell our products. We also want improved technologies because it will help us produce improved variety of crops,’’ the president said.

The chairman of Elite Agro, Sultan Alshamsi, said that his company is interested in investing in Sierra Leone because of the country’s favourable climatic conditions. He said they are ready to help Sierra Leone grow its own food to feed its people with enough to export, which would help boost local economies and government revenue.

He assured president Bio that his company would invest in skills and technology transfer to local communities and farmers, to help the country produce food to acceptable international standards. Sultan Alshamsi said they will work with local communities to ensure social and environmental sustainability.

President Bio, accompanied by Mrs Fatima Bio, and the Sierra Leone Ambassador to the UAE – Rashid Sesay, as well as other senior members of government, were taken on a conducted tour of various operating farms of the Elite Agro in Al Ain, UAE ‘s inland oasis city on the eastern border with Oman.

3 Comments

  1. Absolutely, due to bad governance by the then APC led by President Koroma, investors have lost trust in Sierra Leone. Open thieves, unreliable – with NOTHING proud to write home about. President Bio has to fix what went wrong in our Land. Quick fix is not the solution to Sierra Leone problems. Together we can win.

  2. I am starting to get fed up with these unending trips just to talk about business opportunities. Investors rushed to any country especially in third world countries that do not have much to sell when they see or read about business opportunities. If I am not mistaken this is the third article in a space of one month whether it is said that the President has won investors to invest in our agro business. First it was the Turkish who it was said would invest over $200M into Turmabum, then the Indians, the Egyptians and now UAE. When is one of these proposed investments going to become reality?

    I hope that I am out rightly wrong but this is not the best way to go about attracting investors? Former president Koroma went on several investment fora and business opportunity trips. At the end, we ended up worse than when he came into the scene. Even the little investors his predecessor the late Alhaji Kabba left behind, he ended up robbing them off their investment.

    If president Bio wants to turn things around for the better, he should change that which did and has not worked previously. Some of the things that the President should do and which have worked in many countries that have turned the corner to get investors should be:

    1. Show Results First: To do this, it is not just to tell people that you have the land, you have to show outsiders that despite your limitation, this is what we can show for the limited investment we have done on our own with what we have. Investors would see the potential and believe you me they would come to you. I will give an example. In Tanzania, the government supported locals to grow cashew nuts. Few years ago, they reached their limitations in terms of production and marketing. Someone was watching – The Chinese. They came in, and today Cashew nut farming, modernization and marketing from Tanzania to China alone accounted for more than $35M into the economy this year.

    2. Follow Through: it is not enough to go around the entire globe holding investment fora for the camera. When you have one country or business company committing, it is your duty to follow through and not just return home and wait for the investor to come. Mind you there are many countries with the same opportunities fighting for the attention of the few business company. By now Sierra Leone would feel a relief if they see the Turkish mounting their equipment around Turmabom

    3. Give assurance or proof of Return on Investment: Investors are not charitable organisations. So many factors determined their willingness to invest. They want assurances that their investments can make profit for them. Agricultural investment for example is not a single year profit making venture. Sometimes it takes years. Security is an important factor. Insurance companies would not insure a business that is going to an area with poor or fragile security. This is where countries like Tanzania have strived. They have some semblance of security for investors.

    4 Ask for advice. Is president Bio seeking this one from others who have turned the corner or he is just going along with the flow. I thought his hidden trip to Kenya was for that.

    There are many other factors which we will leave for another time. But I don’t like the president’s approach currently, and I know that some fanatical supporters would think that this is just another ‘Pull Him Down syndrome’ or Tolongbo supporter. I rather die in the ditch than become one!

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