Agric.Minister admits miscommunication on Torma Bum project

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By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

 Dr. Henry Musa Kpaka, the Minister of Agriculture, has acknowledged that the purpose of the Torma Bum rice project was poorly communicated; leading to widespread misunderstandings which has consequently become a significant issue for the government.

Speaking at the weekly government press conference organized by the Ministry of Information and Civic Education in Freetown, Dr. Kpaka clarified that the project’s main objective was the construction of an irrigation system to enable rice cultivation up to three times a year, not immediate rice production.

Dr. Kpaka explained that the project faced delays as donors did not release funds until recently. The construction of the irrigation system began three months ago.

He provided updates on the ongoing ‘Feed Salone’ project, noting that they are midway through the first planting season. About 15,000 hectares of land have been ploughed, and approximately 8,000 hectares have been planted.

The government has allocated $10 million USD for loans to private sector farmers at a 10% interest rate, with individual loans up to $1 million USD. Additionally, over seven million Euros from the European Union have been set aside for loans to smallholder farmers.

Dr. Kpaka also mentioned efforts to cultivate cocoa as an export crop and highlighted a partnership with Pee Cee and Sons to produce about 2,000 metric tons of onions annually. This initiative aims to cut onion imports by half.

The Torma Bum project, covering 12,500 acres of land, aims to boost local rice production to meet domestic demand. It includes acquiring farm machinery, implements, and providing mechanization services.

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