As World Food Day observed today…

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Agric Minister says zero hunger can be achieved through concerted efforts

October 16, 2018

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

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Minister of Agriculture Joseph Ndanema during yesterday’s Press briefing ahead of World Food Day

Minister of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFFS), Joseph Ndanema has noted that zero hunger could be achieved through concerted efforts and that everyone must come on board the train to achieve food security.

Minister Ndanema was speaking yesterday at a press briefing organised by his ministry together with development partners ahead of World Food Day celebration today.

“To achieve zero hunger is not an easy task; it requires the involvement of all. What I mean by all, is government, our international partners, our local partners, the private sector, the people themselves and  farmers,’’ he said , thus imploring the attention and participation of all, especially people that will transform agriculture from subsistence farming level to Agri-business level .

The minister further said they would make agriculture a lucrative and enterprising business for those involved in it, including young people across the country.

“We are keenly happy, on behalf of President Julius Maada Bio, to be part of this celebration of the World Food Day. The theme, which stipulates zero hunger, falls within the plans of the New Direction,” he said.

He added that the new administration has taken the challenge to achieve food security and  that all what they’re doing now was to fulfill that particular commitment and pledge the president made to the people of Sierra Leone.

Ndanema said that since taking up post as a minister, significant  strides have been made in planning and organising the ministry, adding that they have come up with seven strategic plans to ensure the attainment of  food self –sufficiency.

We want to, on behalf of government, thanked Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP). FAO has proved every word that the representatives have said .They are with us, in fact we have just come up with the agricultural transformation programme which FAO has helped us make sure helps the New Direction,” he disclosed.

The agriculture minister said they were collaborating with different partners, including FAO, at the highest level to make sure that they sing from the same hymn sheet, adding that WFP has been very supportive especially in the area of school feeding.

He revealed that this year’s World Food Day will be celebrated at Moyamba Junction, stating that the day provides opportunity for people in other areas to connect with the agricultural sector.

Deputy Country Director of WFP, Yasuhiro Tsumura said the organisation has been in the country for a very long period and has always worked with people and government of Sierra Leone, providing food security assistance throughout the difficult times of civil war, Ebola, and other man-made disasters.

“We are very pleased to see that the country is now at a very important turning point where it is getting out from post-crises recovery period towards a steady and accelerated development phase,’’ he said, adding that they were very proud as an organisation to accompany the government towards the journey of zero hunger.

Ms. Tsumura disclosed that WFP was now shifting from crisis to development-from direct assistance to capacity strengthening.

The WFP deputy country director disclosed that they have just resumed support for the government’s National School Feeding Programme and that there would be a joint launch event on Friday, 19th October.

“Together with FAO, we are supporting international Strategic Review on Zero Hunger which is national –a process that will involve all stakeholders in the country to reflect on the challenges and gaps to achieve and agree on actions and   road map,” she said.

On her part, FAO Representative in Sierra Leone, Nyabenyi Tipo said World Food Day coincides with her organisation’s 40th anniversary operating in Sierra Leone.

She disclosed that FAO was founded in 1945, but started operating in Sierra Leone in 1978, adding that they completed 40 years in the country this April, but due to transition period they decided to celebrate it to mark World Food Day.

“We are celebrating our partnership with the government of Sierra Leone for having hosted us for 40 years. This celebration is coming at the time when we know that there is a strong commitment from the New Direction to focus on agriculture,” she said.

The FAO Rep. said they have been working in line with the priorities of the government.

He noted that for the period of three years ending in 2019, they would focus on diversification of livelihood especially increasing production activities, national resource management and resilience building.

“We work along these three priorities and we are ready to sit down with the new government to review them in line with the New Direction and the new strategic plan of the ministry. Our support lately has been really focused on policy because without enabling policy environment the sector cannot rise and it cannot go forward,’’ he said.