By Alfred Koroma
After education, agriculture and food production is the next priority of the New Direction Government, President Julius Maada Bio has said.
“Since we have improved education, the next thing we are going into is agriculture. This time round, we will ensure Sierra Leone produce it own rice, the he said. “We should not import rice here. So food, cash crops, animal husbandry, everything that involves food, we will ensure we give it a big lead after we have won the election.”
We want to make sure we have enough food here because we have all the foundation, he told crowded hall at Bintumani on the first day Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) 13th National Delegates Conference.
He said government would have to bring on board the private sector and formulate certain policies that will enhance food production in the country.
Making agriculture the next priority means, if President Bio is reelected, we may see the sector take lead in budgetary allocation as it has been for education under the last four years.
In those years, the expenditure priorities of the SLPP-led Government has been human capital development, economic diversification which includes agriculture and food security; infrastructure development; combating climate change and promoting good governance as articulated in the Medium-Term National Development Plan of 2019-2023. The education sector has received much attention of the government’s expenditure priorities, getting the highest percentage of the national budget year in-year out.
The focus will now shift to agriculture and food security, the President has affirmed.
Although budget allocation to the sector decreased in the last two years – from about NLe.422.6 million in 2021 to NLe278.0 million in 2022 and NLe 252.5 million allocation for 2023. It has also seen a boost in tractors and power trailers previously.