By Aminaash Nyande Brima,Information Attache, Rabat, Morocco
President Julius Maada Bio, has at a round table discussion on the margins of the Africa Investment Forum Market Days Event in Marrakech, informed key Development Partners and potential Investors about the importance of agriculture.
The round table was jointly convened by the African Development Bank, and President Bio.
President Bio informed the gathering about the Feed Salone flagship programme, with specific reference to the Torma Bum’s four thousand hectares irrigation scheme.
He made a significant commitment of his williness to invest eight hundred million United States dollars (US$800M) in rice industrial complex project to development partners.
The projects aims to establish a fully integrated rice industrial complex in the country to further bolster the nation’s growth and food security.
He expressed appreciation to the ADB President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina for the Bank’s support to his development agenda.
President Bio assertained that human capital development was a major priority in the first term of his Presidency. He affirmed that his second term will focus on food security and job creation.
“It’s imperative on the government to create decent jobs and giving better opportunities to our young people, the lack of which continues to force a good number of them to foreign lands and most times under perilous circumstances,” he noted.
President Bio mentioned the green revolution initiative that was tried in Sierra Leone before, but failed, may be on account of wrong feasibility studies.
On the Feed Salone programme, he assured, the participants that the initiative is informed by science and data with the urgency to attain food sovereignty.
He believed that the best way to stimulate economic growth is through “agricultural transformation.”
President Bio called on the ADB and development partners to invest in the Feed Salone initiative in order to boost job creation in the areas of road, water and Electricity in the Torma Bum project.
He stressed, his government williness to increase rice yeilds and the risk investments around the agriculture value/chain in the Feed Salone transformative Agenda.
“The unemployment rate is high in Africa, reasons being that many young Africans risk their lives to cross the Atlantic Ocean with no future of what their destination would be,” President Bio alluded.
He noted that Agriculture is the best way to create jobs for young people, and to stimulate growth is by investing in agriculture.
President Bio informed the development partners and potential investors that he is always happy to be at the farm, noting that he is not only a farmer but has passion for agriculture.
He emphasized that his flagship Feed Salone Programme would boost agricultural productivity to fuel inclusive growth, increase access, and the availability of locally produced nutrient and safe food.
During his powerpoint presentation on the Torma Bum Project, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Dr. Musa Henry Kpaka, highlighted that Food Security and Economic Growth would help to tackle challenges related to food security and economic development; alignment with the government’s flagship initiative, including the Feed Salone Strategy.
The Minister further said that Feed Salone would optimize investment and leverage existing government contributions, which include an initial investment of $130M and over 57,000 hectares of suitable farming land.
He reaffirmed government’s commitment to providing over 57,000 hectares of farming land suitable for irrigation and additional 27,000 hectares for non-rice production.
The Minister encouraged the development partners and potential investors to come on board to build the space and grow the economy.
For his part, the President of Africa Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina and his team pledged their unwavering support to the Feed Salone programme.
“I have no doubts in the President’s strong political commitment and clear vision for the country, especially with the Feed Salone initiative to enhance economic growth.” Dr Akinwumi Adesina affirmed.
The President of the Africa Development Bank commits the bank’s readiness to work with the government and make the relevant interventions where necessary.
Other government officials at the round table included the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources Julius Mattai; Minister of Trade and Industry, Ibrahim Alpha Sesay; Deputy Minister of Finance 2, Bockarie Kaloko; Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco, Atumanni Dainkeh; and Consul-General in the Moroccan Sahara, Madam Zainab Kandeh.