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2013 audit report indicts Agric Minister

January 28, 2015 By Jariatu Bangura

January 28, 2015 By Jariatu Bangura

INDICTED … Agriculture Minister, Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay
INDICTED … Agriculture Minister, Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay

The 2013 Auditor General’s report has exposed the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay, as it claims lapses in the efficient management of a hire-purchase scheme under his purview during the year under review.

The report, which will be deliberated on by lawmakers anytime soon, says that farm machinery purchased by the Agriculture Ministry was not used to improve productivity, while mechanisms put in place by the ministry did not minimize ‘pre’ and ‘post’ harvest losses.

The ministry, the report adds, also failed to provide adequate technical support to local farmers.

The report further states that these failings in promoting mechanization and not providing the necessary technical support significantly affected the ability of farmers to improve productivity.

Also, the report reveals that only 26% of installment payments had been made by farmers and that in 2013, only 0.4% of payments due were collected as the hire purchase tractors developed serious mechanical problems in the first year.

“The Ministry of Agriculture provided a mobile mechanical workshop with trained operators to carry out necessary servicing and repair work free of charge but farmers commented that they could not afford to pay for the services of the workshop, suggesting that they were being asked to pay for services that should have been provided free,” the report states.

Meanwhile, the report further maintains that spare parts for the tractors were not easily accessible in local markets, as most farmers still practice the traditional clustered planting of seed rice, which resulted in low yields instead of the recommended line planting of seed rice for inland valley swamps.

The Auditor General’s report avers that a review of Agricultural Business Centres revealed that more than 50% had low activity levels and in excess of 10% were completely dormant.

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