By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security over the weekend commissioned in Community Banks in Madina, Tonko Limba Chiefdom, Kambia district and Kamakwie in Sella Limba Chiefdom, Bombali district.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay said that the promotion of agriculture across the country was part of the policy and programme of government, adding that “It’s now time to commercialize agriculture so as to enable farmers earn enough income and contribute to making Sierra Leoneans become more food self sufficient.”
He said both banks have more opportunities to grow as a result of mining activities and periodic trade activity in their respective area, and admonished the residents to buy shares in the banks. He disclosed that his ministry was ready to construct an apex bank for all community and village banks in Makeni, the district and provincial headquarters of Bombali district and Northern Province respectively.
He revealed that his ministry, in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), has constructed fifty-one out of sixty-six village banks and seventeen community banks.
Also, Special Adviser to President, Dauda Sulaiman Kamara maintained that the opening of community banks was in line with the Agriculture Ministry’s policy to take ‘door-step’ banking to the people, especially farmers.
He admonished both communities to make good use of the opportunity the banks accord them by opening accounts and buying shares, in order to sustain both banks.
“You must open an account to access loan and other banking facilities,” he urged.
Dominic Mansaray, who represented the Bank of Sierra Leone, noted that the community banks are legally licensed by the Central Bank and urged people to have confidence in doing business with them.
IFAD Country Programme Manager, Madam Mariatu Kamara, commended the government for providing financial services support to farmers.
Hon. Roland F. Kargbo of Constituency 36 and Hon Patrick Lahai Kargbo of Constituency 39 both admonished their constituents to make good use of the loan facilities the banks would provide by being willing to pay back loans with minimum interest so that others might also benefit.