EU, Solidaridad conduct joint field monitoring in Bombali, Tonkolili Districts

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By Ishmael Dumbuya

Last week, a collaborative team from the European Union (EU), Solidaridad West Africa, and partners, including Develop Salone (DESAL) and Nianda Agricultural and Trading Company, embarked on a joint field monitoring mission for beneficiaries of the Developing an Inclusive and Sustainable Cashew Agroforestry Value Chain (DISCA-VC) project in Bombali and Tonkolili Districts.

During the two-day field visit, the team explored selected communities in Tane Chiefdom, such as Mamankoroh and Mapakie, as well as Mabonkani, Mankoreh, and Kamoria communities in Safroko Limba chiefdom, Bombali District.

The primary objectives included engaging with farmers, assessing the implementation progress led by Solidaridad and its partners, and gaining insights into the forthcoming phases of the DISCA-VC project.

EU Policy, Infrastructure, and Rural Development Officer Alexandre Serres interacted with smallholder farmers benefiting from the project, encouraging them to take ownership of its success.

He expressed gratitude to Solidaridad and its partners DESAL, for their collaborative efforts. Serres underscored the importance of educating beneficiaries on all facets of the project and emphasized environmental protection to mitigate climate change impacts in farming communities.

Addressing the communities, Serres highlighted the need for careful handling of the project opportunity, as the funding for the project has only one phase, and financial resources are derived from European taxpayers. He urged farmers, stakeholders, and community residents to treat the opportunity with utmost care.

Andrew Kojo Morrison, the Country Representative of Solidaridad in Sierra Leone, commended the dedication of cashew farmers. In 2023, Solidaridad supported 3,743 farmers to plant 120,000 polyclonal cashew seedlings on 3,000 acres in 80 communities in Northern Sierra Leone.

Morrison reiterated that DISCA-VC is a four-year program operational in four districts: Bombali, Port-Loko, Kambia, and Tonkolili. The core objectives include linking farmers to markets and generating decent employment opportunities for processors and sellers within the cashew value chain.

Through funding from the EU, Solidaridad has constructed a state-of-the-art cashew factory at Newton, with another underway at Rogbere. Once commissioned, these factories will be handed over to farmers and stakeholders, enabling them to adhere to professional cashew seed planting and enhance abundant production.

The Country Director emphasized the importance of implementing bye-laws to protect cashew farms from sporadic bush fires. Morrison also addressed beekeeping on cashew farms, highlighting the bee-friendly nature of cashew trees and the necessity of proper beehive usage.

The DISCA-VC initiative, falling under the EU Jobs and Growth program, aims to bolster the Sierra Leonean government’s efforts to create more employment opportunities, improve cashew value chains, and enhance access to markets.

 The recent joint monitoring mission provides valuable feedback for realigning project intervention strategies, ensuring the sustainability and success of the DISCA-VC project.

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