November 1, 2021
By Yusufu S. Bangura
Sierra Leone Chamber for Agribusiness Development (SLeCAD) on Thursday 28 October engaged the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry on agricultural transformation.
The meeting took place at the Ministry of Agriculture conference hall, Youyi Building in Freetown.
SLeCAD Board Chair, Sadiq Sillah said as a government the minister and his team were putting their best effort to making sure that the nation eventually be food sufficient.
He said SLeCAD has been in existence for 15 years and that they have worked with past and present governments for everyone to understand that there is a missing link between agriculture and what the ministry has been doing across the country.
He lamented that the private sector was not involved in the marketing of agriculture products locally and internationally.
He said the attractiveness that the ministry would want to give to agriculture would not be easily realized without private sector involvement, adding that with private sector financing, they would have people who are willing to choose agriculture as their business.
“Today we are here as good citizens of this country. Mr. Minister, today SLeCAD is everywhere in the country and we do not politicise anything. We also believe in people and their performance. There are people in the meeting that are willing to come and invest in agriculture, so we are asking for a good responsible partnership with government and institutions,” he said.
Mr. Sillah said the presentation which was done by the Executive Secretary of SLeCAD was the ministry to realise the relevance of each other, so that they can work collaboratively to carry not only the message, but the physical action because agriculture should not be done on paper, but in the field.
Executive Secretary of SLeCAD, Ahmed Nanoh, during his presentation on SLeCAD and private sector activities, said the ministry of agriculture is important to the country because everyone needs it.
He said SLeCAD is a forum of agribusiness operators, companies, and industries with interest in promoting agribusiness, private sector investment and agro-industrialization in the agricultural sector, adding that they are everywhere in the country.
Mr. Nanoh said as a private sector body, SLeCAD was established with the prime objective of promoting agribusiness, private sector development, and particularly establishing platforms and facilitating interactions for agribusiness, partnerships, trade and investment in agriculture in Sierra Leone.
He continued that SLeCAD represents the voice of agribusinesses with total commitment to playing a leadership role towards propelling Sierra Leone’s economy to higher heights, and that their vision is sustainable agribusiness in Sierra Leone through enhanced productivity and competitiveness at National, Regional and Global Markets.
The Executive Secretary of SLeCAD said their mandate is to promote and increase private investment in the agriculture sector; facilitate, coordinate and organize activities of all farmers; and to ensure the achievement of agro-industrialization, food security and wealth creation in Sierra Leone.
He said they are having challenges in willingness to accept policy shift, low crop productivity, poor road network among others, adding that the ministry should create a day to meet with them once in every month.
“No country can develops if they don’t have food security, so I am calling on everyone to come together and reduce food insufficient for us to arrive at the promise land,” he said.
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Abu Bakarr Karim, said he was happy to meeting with SLeCAD members because private sector is key to the entire process and that they would find ways to promote agriculture in the country.
He said the presentation done was not new to them and that they wanted to know how to mitigate the challenges highlighted in the presentation, to ensure that they attain food security.
“We all know as part of President Bio’s Human Capital Development drive, agriculture is a big pillar and with food security we will be able to impact positively on the lives of our people,” he said.
He said SLeCAD is part of the ministry and that they should continue working with SLeCAD to ensure they promote all their activities, adding that they would provide the environment for the private sector to thrive because should the ministry want to succeed in agriculture they should bring onboard the private sector.
“We know our private sector is not strong and the only way we can make it strong is by creating the platform or giving them the necessary support so that they can also grow, and we also want the private sector to stand on its own. I will work with SLeCAD to ensure that they produce the best product and for them to delivery on their key areas. My ministry and the government are working together to set up an investment bank for farmers to have a loan,” he promised.