Concord — Rokupr rice research station, which was opened in 1934, has been re-opened after it was completely destroyed by rebels who attacked the Kambia district.
The rice station saw many directors who managed it in the persons of the late H.E. Jordan who was the first director of the station; Professor E.A Roberts now retired; Harry N. Will who was the first Sierra Leonean director made the station what it was in the sub-region.
The rice station was known in the sub-region as the focal point for rice research in the former British West African territories of Ghana, Nigeria, the Gambia and Sierra Leone.
Meanwhile, the government has established the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI) by an act of Parliament in 2007 under which the need to reactivate and vitalize agricultural research for the generations and promotion of improved technologies through its research centres was actualized.
The station, now the Rokupr centre has been established to promote research, develop, improve technologies for rice, and sorghum.
In his keynote address, deputy minister of agricultural Lovel Thomas said the centre was key component of SLARI rehabilitated to take on its share of the new research dispensation in the country.
He further said that the establishment of SLARI came at a crucial time in the nation's effort to make agricultural research and development more meaningful in national development.
"The commissioning of the rehabilitated offices, laboratories and some residential quarters of the Rokupr Agricultural Research Centre is a step in the right direction," he said.
The minister informed the gathering that Sierra Leone was very proud of Dr. Monty Patrick Jones for his epoch-making contribution towards agriculture and food security in Africa and the world.
He called on the staff of Rokupr and other SLARI institutions to continue the footsteps of Dr. Jones.
Executive director for West and Central Africa Council for agricultural research and development, represented by Dr. Ernest Assah Asiedu who is the staple crops program manager, said that FARA and CORF/WECARD recognizing the current deplorable conditions in agricultural research were facilitating a process of lobbying and advocating national governments and partners to support the rehabilitation initiatives.
"We were therefore glad to learn of the considerable effort that the government of Sierra Leone has put in the rehabilitation of the Rokupr Agricultural Research Centre for rice research."
He therefore urged the government to seek a CORAF/WECARD coordinated facility for the 16 ECOWAS countries under the West African Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP), which is being funded by the World Bank to support country-specific agricultural impact in Sierra Leone.
The programme was climaxed by awarding of certificates and gifts to long service members.