By Michaella Bonnie,
Information Attaché, Embassy of Sierra Leone,
Seoul, South Korea.
His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio during the State Opening of the Second Session of the Fifth Parliament has made huge commitment towards increasing public spending to 10% in the agricultural sector in the next two years.
Such move, according to development experts will help to boost food security in the country and open the space for sustainable development in the country and increase in exportation; thereby attracting direct foreign investment in the country.
Agriculture has a huge and strategic space in President Bio’s administration and for the development of the Sierra Leone’s Economy. Since he took up office, His Excellency President Bio has prioritized the agricultural sector to boost food security in the country. As part of his manifesto commitment to create indelible progress in the agricultural sector and in other sectors, His Excellency President Bio has deemed it necessary to roll-out agricultural projects in all districts of the country. This move has been applauded by many patriotic Sierra Leoneans that believe in the development trajectory of the New Direction Government led by His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio.
“My Government is still committed to increasing public spending to agriculture by 10% in the next 2 years in line with the Maputo Accord. I still strongly encourage prominent citizens, including political appointees, to engage in agriculture at whatever stage in the value chain,” President Bio declares.
As part of his enthusiasm and willingness in working towards food self-sufficiency in the country, in June 11th 2021, President Bio launched the$34.1 million Sierra Leone Regional Rice Value Chain Project in Torma Bum. During the launching ceremony, he emphasized that food security is probably the most critical pillar among the Human Capital Development priorities of the country. He admonished all to embrace the Torma Bum project.
“We came into governance and experience low levels of food security, even though we have vast stretches of arable land in the country and consistent rainfall and rivers and fairly weather conditions,” disclosed President Bio, adding he is working towards achieving stable prices for our stable food. He said that before, there had been no well-thought-out and sustainable investments in the agriculture sector.
“Instead of taking short-term populist actions and granting massive import subsidies at the detriment of the economy or pronouncing an overnight reduction in the price of a bag of rice for political propaganda purposes, we decided to think very closely about a permanent fix,” said Bio, adding that in order to strengthen the participation of the private sector, government through the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank has ring-fenced $50million to support private sector investments in agriculture.
It is expected that the Torm Bum rice project would create jobs and directly benefits 7,000 women and youth farmers along with 35,000 farming families who are growing rice on 35,000 hectares of farmlands in the project locations.