The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a contribution of US$1.2 million from the Government of Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to support smallholder farmers in the Port Loko District of Sierra Leone.
The donation is part of a five-year initiative funded exclusively by the ministry that aims to improve food security by building the capacity of smallholder rice producers in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Preparations began in late 2013, and operations expected to start this year.
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At a hand-over ceremony in Freetown, WFP Country Representative Gon Myers thanked Japan for supporting the multi-year project. “This contribution allows WFP to invest in long-term, community-based development projects without having to worry about any funding disruptions,” he said.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Lovell Thomas, also expressed his appreciation for the contribution and underscored the importance of the initiative, saying: “The technical support and capacity-building activities carried out through this project are key to promoting sustainable rice farming and improving food security in Sierra Leone.”
Through the initiative, some 450 farming households in target communities in both Sierra Leone and Liberia are participating in a Food-for-Assets project to rehabilitate 106 hectares of unproductive swampland and build irrigation infrastructure.
In exchange for their work, farmers receive rations of rice bought from local farmers’ organizations through WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative. With the support of partners, farmers are also trained in improved production and post-harvest techniques.
The project is part of Japan’s commitment to double rice production in Africa between 2008 and 2018. “Japan is honoured to work with WFP and the Government of Sierra Leone in promoting the rice production and food security,” said Ms. Yukari Hara, First Secretary at the Embassy of Japan in Sierra Leone.
With this generous support from the Government of Japan, WFP will assist a total of 4,500 people from 900 vulnerable households in the two countries during the five-year period.