The government of Sierra Leone through the ministry of finance Friday March 1, 2019 signed a financing agreement with the international Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) worth $11.8million for the implementation of the Agriculture Value Chain Development project.
The overall objective of the project, which will be implemented for the next six years, is to increase the income of smallholder farmers through the promotion of agriculture as a business.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, said the project has three components, including agriculture market development and climate resilience and smart agricultural production.
He disclosed that the project stands to benefit 34,000 people across the sixteen districts of the country, adding that activities will be focused where the climatic and agro-ecological conditions are favourable for smallholder producers to produce cocoa, oil palm and rice.
"The primary targeted group will be smallholder to producers to produce cocoa, oil palm and rice. Additionally, the project will target farmer based organized institutions such as agribusiness centers, as well as buyers/importers," he stated.
He assured IFAD of the government's determination and commitment in ensuring that the resources provided for the project were used for the intended purpose.
IFAD Country Programme Officer, Patrick Jefferson Bao, stated that agricultural development with a focus on value chain remain key to the country's economic development.
"We are pleased that the agriculture value chain development project is aligned with the government development priorities and agenda," he said and added that the project aim at improving guidance, food security and high resilience for smallholder farmers.
Earlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Joseph J. Ndanemasaid: "This is a project we have designed to address the issues of productivity and adequate rice production. I want to say that 60% of the project is going towards rice and the other going for food crops like cocoa, coffee and cashew."
He assured of their readiness to commence the implementation of the project as they were about setting up a management implementation unit.