President Ernest Bai Koroma has spoken of his Governmentís identification of the agribusiness sector as a strategic sector for investment, because of the possibilities it represent for food security, revenue generation and wealth creation.
"To achieve this vision, five objectives have been identified," the president recently assured in Freetown.
According to him, the increasing agricultural productivity; promoting diversified commercial agriculture through the private sector; improving agricultural research and extension service delivery; promoting efficient and effective resource management systems, and improving agricultural output through value addition, post harvest loss reduction, agro-processing, packaging and building rural market infrastructures, are crucial to achieving the set objectives.
The cultivation of 48, 000 acres of land which reportedly produced 288,000 bags of milled rice through the tractorization scheme, and the 73, 000 bushels of seed rice reportedly purchased and distributed in good time to the farmers both in the tractorization scheme and individual cultivation in inland valley and mangrove swamps, have been classified by the president as some of the major achievements in the agriculture sector.
He disclosed further that Government has approved the National Agricultural Response Programme (NARP) in support of the cultivation of close to 15, 000 acres of rice and almost 10, 000 acres of assorted crops and livestock.
"Governmentís vision of commercialization of agriculture is being achieved through a Programme for attracting private sector investment," the president maintained. Irrigation, according to President Koroma, is part of Governmentís medium to long term strategy for boosting food security and poverty alleviation. "In that regard, fourteen irrigable areas totalling two hundred and forty one thousand, six hundred hectares have been identified and basic data on their irrigation potential generated," he noted, adding that the topmost five are Torma Bum, Kumrabai Mamilla, Rhombe, Gbundapi and Rolako. He assured of the intensification of research and extension services alongside the formulation of a national agricultural development policy and a strategic plan for the country for the medium to long term under the comprehensive African Agricultural Development (CAADP) Framework agreed upon by African Governments and development partners.