Sierra Leone Government (Freetown)

8 March 2013

Sierra Leone: Keynote Address By His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone

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Mr Chairman;

Hon. Vice President;

Hon. Ministers of Government;

Hon. Members of Parliament;

Mayors, Chairperson & Councillors;

My Good Friends the Paramount Chiefs;

Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corp;

Our Development Partners;

Distinguished Farmers and Fisherfolk;

Ladies and Gentlemen.

During my first five-year term as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Agriculture was a topmost priority in the Agenda for Change. We clearly articulated our vision for the sector as the engine for socio-economic growth and development through commercialization and the promotion of the private sector, including the farmers and farmer-based organizations. It was on that basis that we significantly increased the budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector from the 1.6% we inherited to the current 10% of our national budget.

We also, as a country, quickly and rigorously embarked on the process of developing a comprehensive roadmap for the long-term development of the agricultural sector within the AU's Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme or CAADP process. This process led to the formulation of the National Sustainable Agricultural Development Programme or NSADP, which serves as the country's 20-year roadmap for the agriculture sector.

In order to realistically implement the NSADP, Government and our development partners decided to particularly focus our efforts on the smallholder farmers for the first five years (2010-2014) and hence, formulated the Smallholder Commercialisation Programme, popularly known as "FARM FOR BUSINESS".

Since the launching of the programme in July, 2010, we have been able to organise the smallholder farmers into farmer-based organisations, built their capacity through farmer field schools and supported them with Agricultural Business Centres, tractors, rice mills, generators, power tillers and other equipment and inputs. We have rehabilitated inland valley swamps, built feeder roads and established financial services associations all over the country.

The Western Area Rural District is a recipient of these provisions of ABCs, tractors, power tillers and other agricultural inputs and equipment. Mr Chairman, I now have the pleasure to hand over these assets, valued at 4.9 billion Leones to the Chairman of the Western Area Rural District Council. I call on the Chairman WARDC to come forward to receive and sign for these assets.

Mr Chairman, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, we are here to push our agenda forward. Our determination to transform the sector is receiving another great boost today. The Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP) has approved my Government's request of US$50 Million Grant to complement the on-going interventions in the agriculture sector. We applaud and appreciate the support of the contributing countries: the United States of America, Australia, Canada, South Korea among others, The Bill Gate Foundation and institutions to the Multi-Donor Trust Fund of GAFSP. Let me ask the representatives of the GAFSP Secretariat here present to convey my Government's profound appreciation to all the Donors who have contributed to the Trust Fund. With my Government in the driving seat, we will work with IFAD, FAO, and other partners to ensure that this programme is successfully implemented.

Mr Chairman, distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We will continue to prioritizeAgriculture in our Agenda for Prosperity. We will work to increase the production of our staple food beyond self-sufficiency,with emphasis on sustainable land and water management to improve yields, promote export crops, promote commercialagriculture along the value chain, link farmers to markets, as well as provide effective rural and agribusiness financing systems that will increase the access of smallholder farmers to finance. We will also enhance a productive livestock industry and continue to encouragelarge-scaleprivate sector investments in agriculture with effective out-grower schemes that will support the Smallholder Commercialisation Programme.

In fact, today, I am hereby also handing-over two symbolic cheques worth Le400,000,000 Million each to the Sierra Leone Produce Marketing Company (SLPMC) and ARUL to undertake large-scale organized domestic rice processing, packing and marketing in Sierra Leone, provided by my Government under the Innovation Fund for Agricultural Transformation (IFAT) with support from the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).

Finally,

Mr Chairman, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me reiterate that my government is fully committed to the objectives of the SCP. We will not retreat from our efforts at moving our smallholder farmers from subsistent to commercial agriculture or "farm for business." We will do more to eradicate hunger and poverty, and we will implement our Agenda for Prosperity with a zeal never before seen in this country

With these words, Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, I now have the pleasure to officially launch the GAFSP funding to the Smallholder Commercialisation Programme or "FARM FOR BUSINESS".

I THANK YOU ALL

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