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Agric Minister commissions projects in Kambia District

May 19, 2015

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security last Friday (May 15) commissioned newly constructed 4 three-bedroom staff quarters, 7 stores with drying floors, a field laboratory and jetty and boat house at the Rokupr Rice Research Center in the Kambia District, northern Sierra Leone. The projects were implemented by the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme Sierra Leone (WAAPP-SL) under the Ministry of Agriculture.

Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay also commissioned a 12-room store at the Barmoi luma market and a 2km bridge at Gbonkomaria – also in the Kambia District. The stores and bridge projects were implemented by the Rural and Private Sector Development Programme (RPSDP) under the Ministry of Agriculture.

The minister also inspected a modern biological science lab for research currently under construction at the Rokupr Rice Research Center.

Speaking at Barmoi, Dr. Sesay said the newly constructed stores were a gift to the people of Barmoi and Kambia District as a whole. The project, he said, was funded by the World Bank and was meant to support farmers in marketing their produce.

“Agriculture can do well not only by providing inputs to the farmers, but by also providing them the necessary facilities that will enable them process and market their produce,” he said.

Speaking at the commissioning of the WAAPP-SL projects at the Rokupr Rice Research Center, Minister Sesay noted that Sierra Leone, like many other African countries, loses more than half of what it produces, for which he said his ministry was providing facilities and the enabling environment that will enable farmers maximise production and their profits.

He said the Rokupr Rice Research Center currently boasts of one of the best labs in the whole of Africa, thus commending President Ernest Bai Koroma for providing the necessary support for the agriculture sector to thrive.

“With the provision of all these modern facilities, we are hoping to see a research work that will justify the huge investment government has made in these projects,” said Dr. Sesay. “We want to see research that will produce good marketing strategies. We want to see research that will enable our farmers earn more income and become wealthy like farmers in other countries.”

Project Coordinator of WAAPP-SL, Sulaiman Sesay, said they were at the Rokupr Rice Research Center not to hand over sites but completed structures and facilities as part of their capacity building support to improve agricultural productivity in the country.

“We are here to celebrate this success by handing over completed structures as part of WAAPP-SL’s capacity building support to farmers to help them improve on their productivity,” said Mr. Sesay. “We support capacity building to ensure the Rokupr Rice Research Center and Njala become centers of specialisation. We also provide vehicles and training opportunities from Master’s level to Phd., as well as short and long-term training.”

The WAAPP-SL project coordinator added that he and his team will, in the not-too-distant future, return to Rokupr to hand over the remaining structures, which are still under construction.

Director General of the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI), Dr. Joseph Kargbo, described the day as very important in their long journey to ensure a transformation of the Rokupr Rice Research Center.

He beseeched staff of the institute not to see the laboratories and houses being constructed as mere ornaments, but as tools to make them more productive.

“Let’s do our best for the country. Let’s go out there and solve the problems saddling this nation,” Dr. Kargbo urged.

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