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As 2016 State of Food Insecurity launched…

Agric.Minister highlights challenges

February 27, 2017 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

The Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security, Professor Patrick Monty Jones, has cited inadequate rural financial services, limited large scale irrigation facilities, weak rural infrastructure, weak extension services, heavy reliance on rain fed agriculture, weak capacity in research and statistics, and low value addition as some of the challenges facing the agriculture sector.

The minister highlighted the above challenges while delivering the keynote address at the well-attended launch of the 2016 State of Food Insecurity report in the World on Thursday 23rd February, 2017 at Radison Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel, Aberdeen in Freetown.

He noted that to overcome those challenges, the agriculture sector strategic objectives and priority activities should include increased production and productivity of staple food crops through value chain approach for food security, promote commercial agriculture, promote and increase value adding activities for agricultural products because value added to the value chain is 26 per cent for Africa compared to an average of 72 percent for the rest of the world, and  increase the production and export of cash crops and improve access to finance for farmers.

He said in Africa, about 60 percent of the population was estimated to live in rural areas and that Africa land area is vast, with adding that 40 percent availability of arable land.

He said agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa is strongly based on household, small scale farming and that majority of African farmers cultivate less than 10 percent of their land, which he said could be attributed to many factors including poor governance of land tenure and shocks and stresses due to climate change resulting to food insecurity.

The minister continued that the State of Food Insecurity in the world was first published in 1999 and has consistently raised awareness of the state of global and regional hunger and has also discussed underlying causes of hunger and malnutrition.

“The key objective of the publications has always been to monitor progress towards the United Nations Millennium Development Goals established at the 1996 World Food Summit and in particular to monitor progress in the MDG1  on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger,” he said.

He added that regional overview of Food Security and Nutrition 2016 report on SDG2, targets and provides mandate on other food security and nutrition indicators, policy development and intervention for food security in the region and in countries.

He said Sierra Leone calls for attainment of food self-sufficiency as approved by the leaders in the ‘Malabo Declaration, and  that to achieve it, the country has aligned it agriculture programmes to the Agenda for Prosperity and the Presidential Recovery Priorities  to increase production and productivity, commercialise the agriculture, promote agricultural business centres, promote value chain for rich, cassava, sweet potatoes, cocoa, coffee, palm oil, livestock and promote forestry products  including carbon credit development and trade.

In her opening remarks as Chairperson of the event, Deputy Minister 1 at the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security, Madam Marie Jalloh, said everyday too many men and women across the globe struggle to feed their children with nutritious meal in a world where they cannot produce enough food to feed everyone.

She further stated that 795 million people, one in- nine, still go to be bed with an empty stomach and even more, one in- three, suffer from some form of malnutrition, adding that eradicating hunger and malnutrition remain one of the greatest challenges.

Doing power point presentation on the SOFI Report, the FAO Assistant Director General and Regional Representative for Africa, Mr. Bukar Tijani, said recent assessment of food insecurity through the lenses hunger experience, revealed that 153 million individuals about 26 percent of the population above 15 years of age in Sub-Saharan Africa suffered from several food insecurity in 2014 to 2015.

He said  one out of four individuals above 15 years of age in the region on average was hungry but did not eat for a whole day because there was not enough money or other resources.

He said over 220 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are undernourished, while  153 suffer from food insecurity, with  child malnutrition still high as one out of three children under age five are stunted.

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