Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 July 2020:
The World Bank Board of Executive Directors, on Tuesday approved a $30 million International Development Association (IDA) grant to support agricultural productivity and access to markets for smallholder farmer-agribusiness in Sierra Leone.
According to the World Bank; “This additional financing for the Smallholder Commercialization and Agribusiness Development Project (SCADeP) will enable the project to invest in roads and bridges to improve connectivity, thereby providing access to more remote areas of high agricultural production.
“Specifically, it will help build critical bridges across key river crossing points currently served by manual cable ferries. These manual ferries are mostly out of service due to increasing risks of accidents particularly during the rainy season when water levels are high,” the statement reads.
Speaking about the funding, Gayle Martin – World Bank Country Manager for Sierra Leone said:
“The World Bank is focusing its interventions toward helping the agricultural sector recover quickly from the effects of COVID-19 and contribute toward higher medium- to long-term agricultural growth required to reduce poverty among smallholder farmers and promote inclusive growth. This project is aligned with the economic diversification and growth agenda of the Government.”
The statement says that smallholder farmers are the drivers of many economies and play an important role in promoting livelihoods and food security amongst the rural poor.
According to the World Bank, the additional financing is strengthening productive business linkages between farmers and selected agribusiness firms and other commodity off-takers. It builds on the results achieved by the project and will scale up the provision of improved seeds and fertilizers to increase farmers’ productivity.
So far, the SCADeP project has supported the rehabilitation and maintenance of 166 km of feeder roads and the construction of 192 culverts and 6 bridges, thereby providing year-round access to farms, markets, schools and health centers for 77 communities in nine districts across the country.
Average travel time on these roads has seen a significant reduction from 20min/km to about 2min/km. Another key accomplishment is a study to assess the agribusiness/out-grower landscape in Sierra Leone. This framework is serving as a guideline for the creation of effective and mutually beneficial long-term partnership arrangements between farmers, nucleus commercial farmers, agro-processors and exporters.
Since the atsrt of the COVID-19 pandemic and folowing the government’s appeal for interantional support to help cushion the impact of rhe pandemic on the country’s econbomic recovery after decades of poor growth, Sierra Leone has received more than $300 million of support.
It now remains to be seen whether the Bio-led government can create the necessary inclusive political and business friendly environment, that will enable businesses and industry to flourish, create jobs and drive economic growth and wealth creation.
Integrity, credibility, commitment and hard work always pays and fortunately that is the foundation of the new direction government. Our country lost the opportunity that Rwanda took advantage of, after their devastating civil war. The western world designed a kind of “Marshall Plan” for Sierra Leone after our civil war, which included debt forgiveness at the end of late President Tejan Kabba’s SLPP administration, after the resettlement of most of our refugees and the rebuilding of our institutions. Unfortunately the then Vice President Solomon Berewa lost the 2007 election to the APC party and respectfully conceded to the current lifetime leader and his cronies, who wasted no time in grabbing most of the development grants for their personal use, which eventually led to complete loss of confidence by our development partners who decided to flee.
Austerity, corruption and lawlessness were systemic. Finally with the SLPP New Direction Government in power things are heading back in the right direction as indicated in the link below: https://awokonewspaper.com/sierra-leone-ranks-3rd-in-organic-cocoa-export/.
Young4na, thank you very much for sharing your personal, direct experience. Your lack of optimism is well founded. The lack of oversight which you mentioned can be easily explained: You see, upon the arrival of any grant, loan or aid, the authorities in Freetown (President, permanent secretaries, ministers and other top guns) take their cut and dispatch the rest to the targeted areas. Officials in these areas take their own cut before the aid actually reaches the people in shredded form. By this time nobody cares anymore, and so the people convert remnants of the aid into personal use. Overall, therefore, the country has gone no where.
If President Bio is actually serious about his “new direction “, he should place himself right in the middle of all assistance coming in with a very tiny, trusted team to help him. On top of this, he makes unannounced trips to areas to which aid has been directed to see first-hand what progress is being made. He should adopt the Israeli intelligence motto of “by way of deception thou shall do war”.
For example State House could announce that the President will be visiting Bo tomorrow when in fact Kambia, where aid has gone, is the destination. Unless he sees progress all those within his power to dismiss should be dismissed on the spot and subjected to investigation. He only needs to do this three or more times and the message will sink. Just think what this would do to his popularity across the country. But so far the President is in a run-of-the-mill type of mode. And he has very limited time for him to show us something.
Yes sir honorable Sorie, you are right on point regarding the top down siphoning of funds/aid in our corrupt infested society. Sadly, the same corrupt culture exist in the current regime albeit being done in a clandestine way. Almost all the current ministers and head of parastatals are engage in a continuous cycle of receiving kickbacks in either awarded projects or over-bloated procurement estimates.
I tottalky agree with you. It was Pa Stevens APC government that introduced Chinese imported rice to Sierra
Leone. Sometimes in our past we used to export rice. By bringing the Chinese imports the Stevens government effectively pulled the rug under the the feet of our productive farmers. Gradually people stop famiing and became dependent on government imports. Over time there were less riots against the government, becsuse every one realised you can’t cut the hand that feeds you. It was a calculated move on the part of Stevens to maintain his grip on power. Bio is advancing the same policies.
Its nothing wrong with the soil, I can’t recall anytime my father’s livestock, or other nomadic fulani farmers saying their cattle have died because of lack of feed or water. Our problem has always been MAN MADE. We have corrupt politicians, that only go into politics to fulfil their life long held dream of becoming rich. As for the rice imports, it took time for some members of the Sierra Leone population to get used to this rice import. They were complaining of having belly runs. What has happened in Sierra Leone over the years is what I call “STATE CAPTURE.”
This one individual feels he is the only one that has the God given right to decide the destiny of seven millon people. As one fomer American ambassador remarked “SIERRA LEONEANS ARE THE EASIEST PEOPLE TO GOVERN”. TO PUT IT BLUNTLY, WE PLACED OUR TRUST IN THE HANDS OF OUR ELECTED LEADERS. We need to learn to question more and seek accountability. And the only way we can do that is through education and unfettered freedom of the press.
We get all these grants and aid targeted at specific sectors, but yet we remain stuck in the same place. This is a syndrome which pervades all the administrations we have had. It’s unclear whether President Bio will break the chain. The outlook is grim and unpromising – the evidence is all over the place. It’s amazing that the international community has not become so sick of us to just turn its back on us. Here is a nation with more than abundant rain fall but cannot build a single dam to supply everybody with clean water. Here is a nation with countless PhD holders which has to be nudged with foreign money to decentralise its governing system.
Here is a nation which relies on a foreign ship to supply a substantial part of its power needs, and yet every now then can afford to lose billions of Leones to corruption – money that could be used to buy the most powerful generator in the world with technicians well trained to maintain it. Rather what we had was a fight over a generator which resulted in the loss of precious lives. We have a nation with fertile land and yet we have to rely on foreign assistance and direction for us to fashion a first-class agricultural policy while we pose with our PhDs. We are bound to be the laughing stock of the world. The trouble is , it doesn’t seem to bother our leaders. They have no pride , otherwise they would design policies which would essentially relies on what we have to make headway. May be we are cursed.
In trying to get in our politicians have all the answers even before they think of the problems, but once they are voted in some mental ailment seems to afflict them which makes them forgetful until the next round of elections. Then, suddenly, a supernatural psychiatrist cures them. They buy a few bags of rice to hand them to their constituents who are mentally challenged, and so they vote for them again. These voters only realise their mistake upon discovering that a bag of rice does last for years. But they will repeat the same mistake over and over again.
To GOD be the GLORY. Thank you IMF. I am cautiously confident that the Bio-led government and the people of Sierra Leone will not let our HELPERS down. They will do the right thing so Sierra Leone will continue to be TRUSTED and RESPECTED. Amen!
Once again our international partners dashing out hard cash to our ever multiplying government. During the first leg of EBK regime, I remember vividly the millions of dollars purported to have been invested into the agricultural sector with funds primarily coming from our international partners. Almost every district was procured agricultural machinery—plow machines, tractors, rice milling machines, and heavy duty dump trucks (Tippers trucks), to name a few. My little village in the remote corner of Tonkolili, was one of the beneficiaries with a rice power-mill warehouse built there along with a plow caterpillar given for our chiefdom. To effect ease of agricultural products transportation, several culverts along our dirt road leading to my village were also constructed.
Now with all the highlighted events, one will think we should have been out of the woods by now in terms of being able to feed ourselves as a nation. Surprisingly, we are even worse now than ever before. With my own observance during the yearly visitation to my region, I witnessed tippers meant for agricultural purpose privately converted by district officials to transport sand for housing construction. While the rice power miller at my village was poorly managed with no maintenance whatsoever; the plow caterpillar was placed on a rental basis by chiefdom officials for personal benefits.
Just fews weeks ago, myself and other diaspora descendant from my chiefdom had to contribute monies to rebuild several culverts leading to our chiefdom headquarter town, rendered impassable due to mainly poor construction with less effective materials used. So with the newly announced grants by the world bank, I have no reason to be optimistic largely due to what I have observed personally during the previous regime. Like every government run initiative in the past, the killer will be the complete lack of oversight in implementation and residual follow up on implemented projects.
Its good the IMF is offering that money to help boost agricultural production in Sierra Leone. In order for this money to be spent wisely and meet the needs of hard up farmers, the IMF should also set up an auditing unit to monitor how this fund is spent, and above all else the fund reach its intented target. Otherwise if we go by the track record of our governments, the money will end up in the bank balances of the FAT CATs, Government ministers and their hangers on. The poor farmers whose names were used to secure the 30 million funding will not see a penny of it.
For the money to go to the farmers, government need to set up a local cooperative bank specially tailored for local farmers. So farmers will take out soft loans.Our land is fertile. But our corrupt politicians have made it look like we live in the Sahara desert. What is wrong with tractors for every district, build warehouses to store their harvest. Buy combined harversters, fertilisers and rice seedlings. Work with experts to train our local farmers. On irrigation and host of other ideas how to improve agricultural productivity.
Sierra Leoneans are not stupid. But since independence, we have been programmed like robots or zombies to accept any nonsense from our politicians. We need to take back control of our destiny. Our country should not be poor. Every real son of Sierra Leone knows this to their heart bit. But we have given away our God given right to so called misquided African brothers to enslave us. May God bless the Republic of Sierra Leone.