Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 May 2022:
Last week, the Government of Japan and the United Nations WFP signed an agreement for a contribution of US$3.85 million toward WFP in Sierra Leone. The grant is for strengthening agricultural value chains Kambia, Kenema, Koinadugu, Moyamba, Pujehun and Tonkolili districts of Sierra Leone.
The agreement was signed by H.E Mochizuki Hisanobu (right), the Japanese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, based in Ghana, and the WFP Country Director in Ghana, Barbara Clemens, on behalf of the Country Director, WFP Sierra Leone, Steve Nsubuga
Commenting on the new funding, Ambassador Mochizuki Hisanobu said: “I am pleased that Japan and WFP have the opportunity to build on our previous work to address food security in Sierra Leone, where the livelihoods of many people are dependent on agriculture. This is a valued partnership that we do not take for granted.
“Japan recognizes the importance of cooperation in agriculture as a way to reduce poverty and address food insecurity. This is why over the years we have prioritized the improvement of agricultural production through knowledge sharing, experience and grant support in many developing countries.
“In the case of Sierra Leone, Japan acknowledges the reliance on agriculture as a source of employment, especially for the rural poor and food security for the growing population. Japan also acknowledges the fact that, despite the significant role the agricultural sector plays in Sierra Leone, there are a lot of challenges that make it difficult for the sector to realize its full potential. In this regard, we are pleased that through this grant WFP can extend various support to farmers in the areas of production, processing, distribution and consumption.
“Japan has a long history of promoting efforts in agricultural development in Sierra Leone and Africa at large. Major commitments have been announced at previous TICAD summits to support agricultural development in Africa. Notable among them is the Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa (IFNA), Coalition for Africa Rice Development (CARD) and other policies aimed at positioning the African farmer at the forefront of agricultural production and productivity. At TICAD 8 to be held in August, agriculture and food security will be one of the priority agendas.
“Also, JICA through several technical cooperation projects has helped to improve agriculture in many developing countries including Sierra Leone. Currently, Japan’s private sector is also coming on board and they have collaborated on several agricultural projects in Africa where they have introduced Japanese expertise and technology to boost the sector.
“It is refreshing to know that WFP has plans of partnering with Japanese companies on this project as well. All these initiatives show Japan’s determination to make sure our partners including Sierra Leone are equipped with the necessary capacity to boost production in the agricultural sector and open opportunities for smallholder farmers.
“Let me add that, Japan focuses its development cooperation on people, especially those liable to be vulnerable. In this regard, this project is relevant to Japan’s Overseas Development Assistance in the sense that it focuses on building the capacity of smallholder farmers which will consequently improve their livelihoods and that of their households. When the livelihoods of people are improved, it is an important step in our efforts to promote human security.
“I commend WFP and their counterpart the Ministry of Agriculture in Sierra Leone for their cooperation on the project.”
Steve Nsubuga, Country Director of WFP in said: “Today we once again are witnessing the generosity of the Government and people of Japan toward WFP in Sierra Leone, as well as their commitment to Zero Hunger. WFP in Sierra Leone is extremely grateful for this new grant of JPY 502,000,000. It brings the total amount of funding received from Japan by WFP Sierra Leone in the last five years to US$15.3 million. This makes Japan the largest bilateral donor to WFP in Sierra Leone.
“The project will position small-scale farmers’ groups, especially women and youths in the most food insecure chiefdoms of Sierra Leone, for greater economic opportunities. This project builds upon previous investments made by WFP with funding from Japan to unlock opportunities for Sierra Leonean smallholder farmers. It comes as WFP globally addresses rising humanitarian needs by ring-fencing its investments in building resilience.
“The project is aligned with key Sierra Leonean national priorities for agricultural development, outlined in the 2019-2023 National Agriculture Transformation Strategy: 1. Rice self-sufficiency 2. Mechanization and 3. Crop diversification.
“Over 40,500 people in Kambia, Kenema, Koinadugu, Moyamba, Pujehun & Tonkolili districts will benefit from this grant at a time when the Sierra Leonean economy is strained, and food insecurity affects roughly 2/3 of the population.
“WFP looks forward to participating in the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8), which Japan and Tunisia will co-host in August this year. We believe this project is entirely in line with the spirit of TICAD 8, addressing food security in Africa.
So, what will the $3.85 million funding achieve?
- Collaboration with Japanese agriculture processing machinery company SATAKE to strengthen the capabilities of farmers’ groups and agricultural business centres to process high quality, polished rice
- Training of youth and women machine operators in safe operation and maintenance of SATAKE rice processing machines, in collaboration with SATAKE
- Piloting of solar powered cold storage facilities using Kaneka Solar Energy technology
- Solar powered drip irrigation for vegetable cultivation using Kaneka Solar Energy technology
- Training of farmers in the Technical Package for Rice Production (TPRP)
- Strengthening of farmer groups’ governance and financial management through group formation and training of executives
- Training of farmers in improved rice post-harvest management practices
- Upgrading of farmers’ stores to improve storage capabilities
- Soil testing of targeted Inland Valley Swamps to guide soil enhancement and conservation
- Empowering smallholders to adopt the TPRP through provision of appropriate and quality fertilizer
- Reforestation of Inland Valley Swamp water catchment areas with economic trees for sustainability
- Training and equipping women and youth to establish organic compost making enterprises
- Reforestation of Inland Valley Swamp water catchment areas with economic trees for sustainability
- Supporting Community Youth Contractors to become agricultural entrepreneurs to enhance availability of quality inputs
- Linking assisted farmers’ groups to market through home-grown school feeding
- Piloting a last-mile transport solution to enhance smallholder market access
This is a great news for small scale farmers in Sierra Leone as am within.
May Allah makes it possible for the officials involved to get rid of all the 45,500 people that are entitled to benefit from the funding.
No one can underestimate the politics of food and the politics of food starvation.Food and nutrition is vital for our survival .on the 12th of April 1980,a little known Master sergeant Samuel K Doe and some junior officers stormed the Executive Mansion and assassinated President William Tolbert jr ,which brought an end to hundred and fifty years of Americo -Liberians rule .The following few days thirteen of his former ministers were placed on a sham military tribunals and sentence to death by firing squad.They were strapped on poles in the beach front and executed to a cheering crowds that were hungry and hungry for change .That unfortunate event in Liberia’s history was the culmination of the food riots that gripped the nation of Liberia after the price of rice and other house hold commodities hit the roof which few families can afford .
Fast forward to 1989 when Charles Taylor lunched his so called revolution to unseat Doe.A decades later the dominoes effects of those events on the 12th of April, 1980 was felt in Sierra leone in the form of the RUF wars .Many African governments has used food as a weapon to control their population .The recent accusation made against the government of Ethiopia in stopping the World Food Programme and International Red Cross in delivering vital food supplies to war torn Tigray in the north as a collective punishment for the population in the North was classic example of food being used as a weapon of war .Food security is vital in promoting peace and development in a country .The Stevens government was the first to realised the politics of food and how vital it used as a tool to keep the army and the police on your side to maintain pubic order. Because as the saying goes ‘A hungry man is an angry man’.No government wants to upset the men and women with guns.
Sierra Leone is dependent on rice imports , and for Bio and his ilk the idea that they will devise ways to help our local farmers so they can produce enough to feed a hungry population , will not only undermine their legitimacy but might just make a sceptical population that is sick to the teeth in hearing about corruption allegations question the unquestionable. As long as we are struggling to feed ourselves chances are we will always be looking up to men like Bio to feed us .And you don’t want to cut the hand that feeds you .So a cowed population with dependency culture will never dream of unsitting a corrupt and incompetent government.Because that government knows exactly which button to press to keep them in line .
It’s actually a good move and timely, a big thanks to the Japanese government, world food programme and United Nations for support agriculture. Food is the most paramount in life as it’s anything that we eat and make us grow.
In general food insecurity in Sierra Leone has always been with us and I am afraid to say despite all the efforts of the World Food Programme, the United Nations and the Japanese government assistance programs, we will never be fully food sufficient until this one directionless government of Bio comes up with radical changes that will overhaul the way we do farming in Sierra Leone . Usually food insecurity is mostly associated with landlocked countries that suffers long periods of drought and lack of rainfall. Our country enjoy enough rain fall that other sub-Saharan African countries can only pray to the spirits of the forests to grant them what we have .In Sierra Leone food insecurity is a political weapon .Vote for me or you and your family starve to death .
Also the problem we have in Sierra Leone majority of the population especially the young see farming as a back breaking job and no guarantee of financial gains .But the reality is completely of the scales .There is million of dollars to harvest in farming if only you have the land and the financial support that goes with it .Over the years government policies have sought to radically shift the pendulum in favour of food importers than giving help to our local farmers . The Bio government have weaponised food so the general population is for ever reliant on government imports .Bags of rice is part of the pay packets of the military .And since the general population rely on government subsidies chances are the Bio government will always used rice as voting call card .Food security can only be guaranteed if the government is ready to take the plunge and invest in our local farmers and reform the way farmlands are managed and distributed evenly .Goverment should also look into leasing of arable lands and grant farmers a long tenure in some of the most productive areas of our country which gives farmers enough sense of ownership and long term planning.
The Boli lands at mile 38.Also the government should device schemes by guaranteeing loans taken out by farmers so access to finance for local farmers who otherwise can’t meet the criteria setup by commercial banks to take out loans that effectively shut the door to our local farmers is made easy for them .Sierra leone used to grow and export rice .But that is now history .Bio likes to project himself as a great reformer .But the reality of his four years of chaotic government have made Sierra Leone more dependent on foreign assistance not less .We need a radical change including this inept Bio government .Time for new direction .
Whenever I read or see an article like this, I feel horrified, livid and ashamed. It tells me, as a Sierra Leonean, through my government, that I am totally worthless and incapable of plotting my own way – after more than half a century of pretending to be independent. Outsiders still tell me how to run my life, outsiders still babysit me, outsiders still feed me like a newborn baby and outsiders still tell me what segments of my culture is acceptable.
Are Bio and his team trying to tell the nation that they are so empty of personal and national pride that they cannot come up with $4 million to boost agricultural production in the country, thereby helping to ensure its food security? What a single person in the administration steals in hours is more than the Japanese help of nearly $4 million. One can literally stake one’s life that if just one audit report is allowed to see the light of day, it will show not millions but billions of dollars that the Bio government has stolen in diverse ways, which denies the people a decent life. That’s why Auditor-General, Lara Taylor Pearce, is still sitting at home, having been suspended by Bio.
There will continue to be no hope for mother Sierra Leone for as long as we the voters keep skipping between SLPP and APC; these two political parties have no compass. It is time to for us to sit down quietly, whether we’re literate or illiterate, and ask the question: Why do we continue to have mediocre governments, full of men and women without backbone or brain,who are first class thieves ?This is an outstanding and extremely relevant question at this juncture in our history when we have somebody (Dr Yomkella) who is a brilliant alternative. We must stop being the joke (too funny for laughter) of the sub-region and the world .