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Agric. Minister launches National Youth Farm

July 7, 2015 By Victoria Saffa

In a bid to promote young people across the country to be self-reliant, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security over the weekend launched the National Youth Farm Project at a special ceremony held at Masalia village in the outskirts of Masiaka town in the Port Loko District.

The farm, which covers about 250 acres, was acquired by the Youth Affairs Ministry for the purpose of creating jobs for jobless youths thus contributing to the country’s food sufficiency program and increasing foreign exchange earnings, among others.

Speaking during the ceremony, Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay commended his colleague minister for what he referred to as “a brave initiative in promoting President Ernest Bai Koroma’s Agenda for Prosperity”, and described the location of the farm as “very strategic”.

He also praised the Youth Affairs Minister, Alimamy Koroma, for demonstrating leadership qualities, noting that the pioneers of the project would certainly become heroes, while others live to tell the story.

“Agriculture contributes immensely to the country’s Gross Domestic Product. It is the backbone of every [country’s economy]. This farm is very important and we must do more,” he said.

Dr. Sesay ended up by thanking Plan International and other partners, workers and the Youth Ministry for supporting the cause of the President.

Also speaking, Plan Sierra Leone Country Director, Casely Coleman, maintained that his organization has collaborated with the Youth Affairs Ministry to promote young people’s aspirations.

He disclosed that the project, which will be implemented in collaboration with the Youth Ministry, will support some 20,000 young men and women in five districts, starting with the Masalia farm as a pilot phase.

He stated that young people needed support to enable them access capital and to start their own businesses and vocations.

According to him, 72% of the working age population in the country are out of job and financially insecure with only 9% of the workforce in formal employment.

Mr. Casely noted that the project was in line with Plan International’s Ebola recovery strategy in which livelihood was core, and its components include district youth farms; agri-business farmers and saving groups; skills and knowledge transfer for improved agro-production; processing and marketing; small and medium enterprise management.

He emphasized the organization’s support to youth development in the country.

On his part, Youth Affairs Minister, Alimamy A. Kamara, told the gathering that he took up the challenge after President Koroma pronounced that he would “die for the youth” following his re-election in 2012.

He disclosed that they attracted and utilized merger funding of U$74,000 and U$30,000 from international partners like IFAD and the Ministry of Agriculture to start the project.

“Today some 200 people are working on the farm, 131 are receiving stipends with some volunteers. Our intention is to actively engage 2,000 youths in this farm and making them self-reliant,” the minister disclosed.

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