An umbrella organization of farmers’ associations in Sierra Leone, Farmers Feed Schools and Agricultural Business Centers (FFS/ABC) on Saturday 11th December, 2010 brought together farmers’ representatives from across the country to participate in the organization’s first Annual General Meeting since its inception in 2002. The day-long meeting took place at the Las Vegas Hall, Makeni city.
The essence of the forum was to critically examine past activities of the organization with the view to identifying challenges and to map out strategies for a way forward for the new farming season.
In her opening remarks, the chairman of the occasion who happens to be the association’s president, Mrs. Josephine Oya Kargbo thanked colleague farmers for their support in keeping the association alive. She said such support is but primordial as in her words ‘farmers can only forge ahead if we are united for development.’ She also extended the organization’s fervent appreciation to their development partners such as FAO, IFAD and WFP among others. She however, underscored the need for farmers to embrace and support the organization as their own. This is because they should not only rely on donor support.
The president registered her frustration over the fact that farmers are not accessing the markets because of bad rod network. “Most of our produces continue to perish in the bush as a result of poor road network, she noted, while expressing gratitude to the NaCSA/UNDP cash for work feeder roads project that she said has immensely helped farmers access the markets in some districts. She on that note called on government to make it a priority the reconstruction of feeder roads in rural areas.
Speaking on behalf of the Sheborah Chiefdom and their paramount chief, Chief Ben Bella Sesay thanked the organizers for the initiative to form an umbrella organization that would champion the cause of farmers in the country. He therefore, called on farmers to pledge their total commitment to the activities of the organization in a bid to attain self food sufficiency in the country.
FFS/ABC secretary general, Brima Babo recapitulated the rationale behind the convening of the meeting as a means to evaluate success and challenges and to devise strategies to stand up to those challenges. “Farmers form the backbone of the world’s food productivity, and as such, we need not be poor if only united,” he posited.
Various representatives from the fourteen farming districts made presentations, including the Kono District representative, Mrs. Isatu Sesay who assured that come next season farmers in that district would be able to feed the entire country. She disclosed that the World Food Programme (WFP) has even contracted them for the purchase of about 50 metric tons of rice from Kono farmers.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.