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SCP/GAFSP engages private sector on ABCs

July 8, 2016 By Victoria Saffa

In a bid to turn round the history of weak Agricultural Business Centres (ABCs) into viable business entities in the nearest future, Interim Programme Manager and team at the Smallholder Commercialisation Programme(SCP)/Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP) have engaged stakeholders in the private sector in what has been described as the first and most fruitful encounter in the history of a government agricultural project and the private sector in Sierra Leone.

Serving as the lead coordinating entity and host of the event, the Sierra Leone Chamber of Agriculture and Development (SLeCAD) provided its   members, which include private sector organisations and business ventures in the country, the opportunity to discuss and proffer recommendations for the transformation of ABCs in Sierra Leone.

In his welcoming statement, Executive Secretary Ahmed Nanoh highlighted some of the opportunities that exist in the SCP/GAFSP for private sector players.

He noted that the meeting was aimed at discussing issues affecting the operations of ABCs, while looking forward to possible solutions/suggestions that could lead to the improvement of both institutions.

Nanoh said SCP-GAFSP thought it prudent to extend the opportunity to private sector players that would be interested in working with ABCs through SLeCAD, to ensure ABC transformation and effective operationalisation as limited agribusiness SMEs, organisations/companies are enhanced through cooperation with the private sector.

In his statement, SCP/GAFSP Interim Programme Manager, Muhammad Ajmal Bhatti, thanked all present, including Agribusiness Companies, Trade Union, Transport Union and Master Farmers, encouraging them to make good use of the collaboration and networking with the ABCs for mutual benefits.

The SCP/GAFSP Interim Programme Manager disclosed that the presence of the Chamber of Agriculture was a unique opportunity to stimulate agribusiness promotion programme in Sierra Leone. He urged them not to lag behind in the new dispensation of the ABCs.

Mr. Bhatti pointed out that the SCP-GAFSP would encourage Agribusiness Private Sector operators that are interested in establishing business relationship with   ABCs to ensure their operationalisation and transformation.

The government and partners, he noted, were determined to make the ABCs operational to improve the income profile of farmers, improve food security and reduce poverty, in line with the Agenda for Prosperity.

In his contribution, international consultant for the ABCs Assessment, Mian Jamshed Waheed, underscored the need for private sector to support ABCs in order to make them functional in rural communities.

He emphasised the need for group buying and selling, and encouraging private sector operators to promote value addition of agricultural products.

Waheed disclosed that the collaboration would undoubtedly increase demand for raw materials that could be easily sourced from ABCs.

Sourcing   fund to   promote   Sierra   Leonean companies, the consultant noted, was a necessity to support government’s effort in making the ABCs functional.

He therefore encouraged them to be focused and remain committed as private sector operators, while emphasising the need for them to be under the   umbrella of the Chamber in order to improve agribusiness community growth, including the ABCs.

Suggestions and deliberations on keys issues affecting the smooth operations of both the ABCs and private sector in general climaxed of the event.

The following organization, associations, business ventures were in attendance:

SCP/GAFSP Team, Mountain Lion Agriculture, BENNI MIX, Balmed Holdings Ltd, WINGIN, Traders Union, Sierra Leone Motor Drivers Union, CAM Agro, Nianda Agro, Tar Business Consulting, NAFCU, U-MAX Farms, Sierra Leone Fishermen’s Union, Sierra Leone Seed Multiplication, Lion Cashew, Sierra Leone Sorghum Farmers Union, Salone Juice, NPIM USA and Takorode ABC.

At the end of the session, it was noticed that all the participants showed great level of interest and desire of working with Agriculture Business Centres, specifically aiming at increasing agriculture productivity through the provision of better market/ business access to smallholder farmers in the country.

This act by the SCP/GAFSP has attracted wider commendations from the country’s private sector, describing it as a right step in the right direction. A move which others in the development sector should emulate.

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