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‘Gov’t cannot continue to spend over $135million to import rice’

- says Agric. Minister

March 1, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security has stated that the government cannot continue spending over US$135million annually to import rice because the country has all what it takes to produce and export the staple food.

Professor Monty Patrick Jones was speaking last Friday (26 February) at the official commissioning of Lion Mountain Agro Limited in the southern city of Bo.

“The rice we produce here is of high quality than the imported [variety]. It has more nutrients than the imported and the composition of the proteins is good. We are going to flood this county with rice this year,” he assured. “We must eat what we grow. We want to develop healthy citizens.”

He stressed that agriculture was the engine for economic growth as it contributes immensely towards employment in the country, but urged farmers to produce more, sell more and keep the money in the bank.

According to him, rice was key in the agricultural sector, being the staple food and because it is cultivated across the country, adding that Sierra Leoneans consume rice more than any other country in the African continent.

With regards the company, Prof. Jones stated that the Lion Mountain Agro Limited was here to provide jobs for mostly young people, reduce poverty and improve the lives of farmers.

He said buying rice from farmers would help them greatly as well as inject more money into the local economy to improve the wellbeing of the people.

“I am happy that you have added value to rice. Let me assure you of government’s support towards the company’s good effort in making rice available in the local market,” he assured and commended them for putting the NERICA rice in the market.

Former British High Commissioner in Sierra Leone, Amb. Peter Penfold, stated that the company had been planning their activities for some years, adding that they fully share President Ernest Bai Koroma’s dream and ambition to transform Sierra Leone into a food self-sufficient nation.

He encouraged others to follow the path of his company, and called on the people to share the happiness they were getting from the rice with others.

Lion Mountain Agro Limited is an agricultural company that has operated in Bo District since September 2014, following a Memorandum of Understanding with the government of Sierra Leone.

It has a land lease agreement with five chiefdoms for a total land area of 16,400 hectares for mechanised rice production in Bo district.

The company has provided small mill machine for farmers free of cost and has two machines which produce ten tonnes and two tonnes of rice respectively.

In August 2015, the company received funding from its donors for a monthly milling operation of 300mt on a monthly budget of $120,000 for two years.

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