27 November 2010

Sierra Leone: RPSDP - Giving Life to Koinadugu District

Freetown — In Koinadugu district, Abu Bakarr Daramy is the Chief Administrator of the District Council; he said in an exclusive interview that his council is fully aware of the existence and performance of the Rural and Private Sector Development Project (RPSDP) as a life giver to the district, especially on the implementation of projects on agriculture and feeder road construction and rehabilitation.

The RPSDP, he revealed, is working directly with the District Implementation Committee (DIC) in the area of project recommendation and approval to support projects through the council. He stated that procurement processes like payment handlings and beneficiaries' proper criteria to support farmer-based organisations (FBOs) have been very collaborative in Koinadugu by the ground officers of RPSDP and the council, in ensuring that project monies do not go towards favoured groups, as they are ensuring that farmer-based organizations that are well structured according to the set criteria of the RPSDP, match the benchmarks to get benefit, noting that the funds for FBOs are directly given to the organisations themselves.

Daramy said his council is aware of the aim and objective of the RPSDP, which is to increase the value chain in agriculture and marketing.

For the feeder roads construction, he noted that the funding is coming into the district through the council, as the RPSDP is rehabilitating five feeder roads that were not accessible, but that the areas have a vast potential for the increase in agriculture and marketing, claiming that Koinadugu district is having the best production when it comes to agricultural produce.

The road construction, he said, has created employment for many youths in various communities who were jobless, but they will ensure that the work turnout is good and advocate to RPSDP to expand the project in each of the districts if there are good results from beneficiaries.

Councilor Morlai Kamara of Ward 164, Foloda, Kabala is the district implementation committee (DIC) chairman of the council; he said the committee is made up of 11 members comprising of the Chief Administrator of the council, RPSDP officers, community stakeholders, councilors etc.

As the chairman, his role is to ensure that they meet once a month to discuss the way forward and approve of FBOs criteria, quality farming work and those who have the zeal to continue their work and approve support for them through the Project Sub Unit (PSU) including the District Administrative Officer of the council (DAO) in Koinadugu. He said they have developed 12 RPSDP criteria set for FBOs, some of which are that there should be an existing farm, an effective team of 25 members and more, at least more than 5 women in the group, a bank account etc.

The districts, the chairman maintained, have 24 wards and now they are faced with the problems of supporting each FBO on the district because their application seems to be more than in line with the RPSDP criteria.

For the road construction, he said the work is slow as there is not much monitoring done by the SLRA particularly. The DIC himself, he said, should have the responsibility to monitor and ensure that the road is properly constructed.

46% of the money he said has be given to them and later they will be waiting for the next tranche to complete their work and start using the store and at the same time commercialize it, which he said will enable them to realize added value in their work and minimize profit, even when RPSDP will be no more.

For his part, Samuel A. Sesay, the project coordinator - speaking on a farm location in Kamasokola - said that they have an effective farming group since last year and they are cultivating rice and cassava. He said they only lack the facilities of keeping and preserving their products.

He revealed that when they applied to the RPSDP, a training was conducted for them on the necessary values for supporting them and the need to increase value chain for a better business with efficiency, and how to write a project. Now that their project has been approved, he said they are very grateful to RPSDP, but they are in desperate need of rice milling machines and cassava grater to process their grown.

Alhaji Bailama Munu is the RPSDP District Grant Office under the ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security. He said the DIC is supervising the work through the council to ensure effectiveness and impact.

People in Kabala, he maintained, do not know about the role and functions of RPSDP, but that they have developed a strategy to start mass sensitization through the media with the aim of educating the public and RPSDP, and the benefit of improving efficiency along the value chain and post harvest facilities for FBOs.

He also said that the RPSDP grant is in a common basket and it is done by demand driven and a formidable group presentation following by training of project writing and a vast experience in farming.

Another importance he measured was that they do a feasibility study to ensure that there are existing farms which are very big so that they will get the support.

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