January 19, 2015 By Victoria Saffa
The Chief of Staff in the Office of the President at State House, Mr. Saidu Conton Sesay and the Central Bank Governor, Mr. Momodu Kargbo on Friday 16th January, 2015 visited the Sierra Leone Agri-Business Initiative (SABI) center, a project under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security based at Newton, Western Area Rural District, in order to avail themselves of its operation.
Receiving the high powered delegation at Newton, the Project Coordinator, Mr. Joe Judius Minah welcomed the Chief of Staff and the Bank Governor to their modest center which operates an integrated system of farming wherein wastes from one unit could be used as fertilizer in another unit.
Mr. Minah explained to the visiting dignitaries that in 2007, the Government of Sierra Leone – in collaboration with the United Nations family and USAID – agreed on the establishment of the Songhai Initiative in Sierra Leone. This project is intended to develop an entrepreneurial and agri-business development program based on the proven concept of the Songhai model in Benin Republic. The Songhai model is an integrated value chain development model, which incorporates training and technological innovation with production, mechanization, agro-processing, marketing, recycling and services provision under a unified management and operation.
The principal activities of the model that the SABI project is trying to adopt and adapt in line with national needs are: training in agricultural entrepreneurship; plant, animal and aquaculture production; food processing and packaging; manufacturing and maintenance of agricultural machinery and tools; marketing; development of renewable energy (solar and biogas); technological and managerial support to start-up agro enterprises and established ones, and information technology applications in agriculture.
SABI became functional in 2011 when a technical team of fifteen was sent to Benin Republic to carefully study the model with the aim of complementing the National Smallholder Commercialization Program (SCP), the Agenda for Change, Pillar-4, the Millennium Development Goals, MDG 1 and the United Nations Joint Vision 19.
Mr. Minah led the team on a conducted tour of the center where they inspected the poultry and the processing unit.
Bank Governor Mr. Momodu Kargbo was especially impressed with the expansion program that is ongoing at the poultry unit. “Localization of imported ideas to suit rural farmers’ needs is what this country requires and I encourage you people to pursue that part,” Mr. Kargbo urged.
On his part, Chief of Staff Mr. Saidu Conton Sesay asked salient questions about poultry management, which were effectively answered by the Production Coordinator, Mr. Christian D. Tucker.
The team inspected the Green Houses where they were filled with amazement due to the tremendous transformation being done there. Vegetables ranging from sweet pepper, carrot, tomatoes, radish, lettuce, cabbage and others were on display.
Mr. Kargbo was so filled with emotions that he had this to say: “This type of integrated system of farming needs to be replicated in all twelve districts using locally available resources.”
Mr. Minah was quick to impress on the minds of the team that the expansion they are seeing at SABI is primarily due to the tireless effort of the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay, whose dream he said is to see SABI become a viable and profitable project.
The Chief of Staff and Bank Governor further visited the Mechanical Workshop, the Piggery and the Food Crop Units.
After the conducted tour, the team was so impressed with the facilities that they promised the Project Coordinator of their return to foster a closer relationship with SABI.
This visit of the Chief of Staff and the Central Bank Governor was facilitated by the MAFFS Focal Person to SABI, the Deputy Chief Agricultural Officer, Mr. Sheku T. Kamara.