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2018 Budget: US$80m allocated to Agriculture

November 1, 2017 By Dusuba Koroma and Ransford Felix-Interns

While presenting the 2018 budget to lawmakers in Parliament on Friday, 27th October, 2017 Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Momodu  Kargbo, said government will spend over US$150 million in the agricultural sector.

According to him, agriculture has been targeted as one of the sectors for special focus within the diversification strategy because of its inherent potential, adding that it would lead to a favourable performance mainly focusing on Sorghum farmers.

Emphasis, he says, would be placed on increase in domestic rice production and reduction of cost on importation of the country’s stable food, disclosing that up to US$108 million has so far been utilised for the importation of rice for the first half of 2017.

He further stated that the primary and urgent objective within the shortest possible time in agriculture is to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production, which is the staple food of Sierra Leoneans.

He said the Smallholder Commercialisation Agribusiness Development Project (SCADEP) funded by the World Bank’s new initiatives are on offer, and that  MoFED has approached the Indian Exim Bank for a loan of US$30 million to undertake rice production in Tormabum.

He further disclosed that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, through the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), would fund the agricultural Intensification and diversification project, which would largely be devoted to rice production.

He said government would request the World Bank to allocate US$50 million from IDA countries to aid rice production in the country, adding that the same scheme would also facilitate the development of commercial aquaculture schemes through the setting up of systems and support services for the construction of fish ponds nationwide.

“The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development together with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security will work in collaboration with Standard Chartered Bank to encourage OLAM Agribusiness Company to invest in rice production and marketing in Sierra Leone to attract private sector investment,” he concluded.

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