April 29, 2020
By Mohamed Sesay
Njala University is set to benefit from an Agribusiness and Rice Value Chain Project dubbed ‘Empowering the Novel-Agribusiness-Led Empowerment (ENABLE)’ sponsored by the African Development Bank.
The agreement of the project was signed by the African Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Sierra Leone in August, 2019.
The project budget is estimated to amount to the tune of USD 4,536,000 (Four Million Five Hundred and Thirty-Six Thousand US dollars) and it is designed to operate in the three districts of Kenema, Moyamba and Kambia.
The allocated grant would cover the cost of establishing Youth Agripreneurship Platform, Agrifood Research and Innovation Centre, Engineering, Machinery and Mechanization Unit, and support to farmer out grower systems.
The Project Management Unit (PMU), led by its Project Manager, Dr. Momoh-Fonigay Lavahun, also of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, were at Njala last week to brainstorm with the Njala University administration and the Task Force members of the project on the project’s objectives, components, finance, procurement, M&E, Youth and Gender requirements, as sanctioned by the African Development Bank.
Dr. Momoh-Fonigay Lavahun, during a brief PowerPoint presentation to members of Njala University Administration, which included the Acting Principal and Vice Chancellor, Deans of School, Heads of Department and Directors, said the aim of the Sierra Leone AgriBusiness and Rice Value Chain Project (SLARIS) is to transform the agricultural input supply subsector as a viable and inclusive business opportunity.
He highlighted the major objective of the project, which is “to support the promotion of reliable access to quality input markets through the creation of an enabling environment for private sector led agribusiness growth upstream in the value chain, amongst several others”.
Dr. Momoh-Fonigay Lavahun further spoke on the major components of the project, which includes: Support to Enhancement of Agricultural Inputs Production and Distribution Systems; Support to Agribusiness Development and Enhancement of Agribusiness Inputs production and distribution systems.
The Project Manager revealed that, Njala University, Sierra Leone Agricultural and Research Institute (SLARI), Seed Multiplication Project (SMP) and SLESCA would be the direct beneficiaries of the African Development Bank funded SLARIS project.
Specifically, Dr. Momoh further revealed that Njala University would work on Component two of the project, such as ‘Support to Youth Agribusiness Skills, Entrepreneurship and Employment’.
“A key subcomponent of the above.”Dr. Momoh continued that he would principally look at Empowering the Novel-AgriBusiness-Led Empowerment (ENABLE), Njala Youth employment program, through the establishment and construction of the Songhai model based integrated ecosystem production at Njala”.
He further revealed that Component two would also concern itself with supporting Out Grower systems that would create the relevant legal and regulatory framework, directly link farmer cooperatives supported by the project. The Project Manager encouraged the Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Njala University to grab and make use of the project, underscoring the fact that the University is fully equipped in terms of capacity to drive the activities of the project.
In his response, the Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Njala University, Professor Osman Sankoh, assured the SLARIS Project Management Unit of the University’s fullest commitment, noting that his presence at Njala University had brought the requisite energy, commitment and support to rekindle the development efforts of Njala.
He urged his colleagues in the administration and academia to grab the opportunity and use it as a way to make Njala proud again. Professor Sankoh challenged the newly elected Deputy Vice-Chancellors of Bo and Njala Campus (Professors Koroma and Professor Fofanah) to use this opportunity to positively turn the institution around.
The Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal concluded by again assuring the Project Management Unit that Njala University had the requisite expertise to successfully roll out such a project, and urged them to establish a coordinating mechanism in order to bring together all beneficiaries of the project with a view to consistently discuss challenges, gaps and successes.
Professor Sankoh also entreated the PMU to open up the process to key players such as Statistics Sierra Leone (SSL), the National Monitoring Evaluation, and all other critical players to help boost the project implementation credibility to the donors.
Deputy Vice-Chancellors of the two campuses, Deans of School present, assured the Project Management team and the Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal that they would provide the much-needed synergy for the smooth implementation of the project.
The Registrar of Njala University, Dr. Muneer Jalloh noted that since its inception the University has not been able to empower the various surrounding communities agriculturally, which according to him, it part of its Corporate Social Responsibility. The SLARIS Project, he said, would move towards satisfying that key responsibility on the part of Njala University.