The sum of US$28,500,000 (Twenty Eight Million Five Hundred United States Dollars) has already been raised for the implementation of the Smallholder Commercialization Programme (SCP) by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security.
This was disclosed by the Minister, Dr. Sam Sesay during the government weekly press briefing at the Ministry of Information in Freetown on Thursday 19th August 2010. According to the minister, the Smallholder Commercialization Programme is a nation-wide initiative aimed at increasing the productivity of Sierra Leoneís agricultural sector. He said it is one of President Ernest Bai Koromaís governmentís top three priorities centered on the fight against poverty and food insecurity.¬† ďThe project will invest an estimated US$403 million in agriculture over the next five years, lifting over two and a half million people out of poverty, strengthening the national economy and putting Sierra Leone on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal on food sufficiency,Ē he said, adding that the SCP would be carried out through Farmer Field School approach where farmers learn through participation and experimentation of different agricultural technologies.¬†
He said the programme began in 2010 with the establishment of about 390 (Three Hundred and Ninety) Farmer Based Organizations (FBOs) comprising of smallholder farmers with subsidized packages that give them the means and know how to develop commercial farming practices such as improved seed varieties, fertilizers and labour saving machinery like rice cutters and power tillers.¬†
With the SCP in existence, the minister assured that each FBO would be supported by one of the 150 newly established Agricultural Business Centers (ABCs) equipped with processing equipments such as rice mills, cassava graters and drying floors that enables¬† them to process and store crops in a dry and pest free environment. He said as the SCP develops, ABCs will become central to the development of private farming enterprise, offering smallholders value added services such as marketing and distribution.
He ended by reiterating that the project SCP was sure to transform Sierra Leoneís agricultural sector by addressing the barriers that smallholder farmers are not able to remove by themselves to develop commercial farming practices.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.