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.