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Keynote Address by His Excellency, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma at the Ceremonial Launching of the meeting of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAP) on 22nd April, 2013, at the Bintumani Hotel in Freetown
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Apr 24, 2013, 17:00
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Mr Chairman;

Hon. Vice President;

Hon. Ministers of Government;

Hon. Members of Parliament;

Mayors, Chairperson & Councillors;

My Good Friends the Paramount Chiefs & Traditional Leaders;

Madam Secretary General of the Mano River Union Secretariat;

Distinguished Representatives from the World Bank, The Japanese Government, the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD), Africa Rice Center, the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA),

Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corp;

Our Dear Esteemed Farmers;

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.

 

I warmly welcome you to this launching ceremony of the West African Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) in Sierra Leone.

 

Agriculture is the mainstay of economic development in Sierra Leone and it impacts nearly all other sectors. It is the source of livelihood for the majority of our people and holds the greatest promise for positively transforming the lives of our citizens. However, for the agricultural sector to improve its contribution to the overall goal of national economic growth, wealth creation, food security and poverty alleviation, the sector must be transformed from a subsistent to a commercial venture. This has been our vision for Agriculture in the Agenda for Change during my first term, and it is also the defining aspiration in the Agenda for Prosperity of my second term.

 

At the continental level, the African Union (AU), through its New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), brought to the fore a platform that integrates rural development, agriculture and livelihood through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) process. It is now a key platform for an agriculture-led development programme to eliminate hunger, reduce poverty and food insecurity, generate economic growth, reduce food imports and expand exports within an overall strategy of sustainable development. The Regional Economic Communities, ECOWAS, in our case have advanced policies to guide the coordination and implementation as well as monitor gains from CAADP.

Sierra Leone is part of the CAADP process and we are implementing the National Sustainable Agriculture Development Plan (NSADP) as the country's Compact under the CAADP process. The objectives, as spelt out in the National Sustainable Agriculture Development Plan (NSADP) include, amongst others, increasing agricultural productivity through a variety of support measures along the entire agricultural value chain; and promoting commercial agriculture through private sector participation. My Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security has prioritized the Smallholder Commercialization Program (SCP) as the country's flagship program in the agricultural sector for the next couple of years.

 

Our expectation is to attain food security - that is, its availability, affordability and access to the poor at adequate levels and in hygienic manner. We also expect to improve agricultural productivity with a focus on small-scale farmers, especially women, and create dynamic agricultural markets between our country, West Africa and the entire world. We anticipate to become a net exporter of agricultural products, achieve a more equitable distribution of wealth, be a strategic player in agricultural science and technology development, practice environmentally sound production methods with a culture of sustainable management of the natural resource base to avoid their degradation.

 

With the premium that our NSADP places on the improvement of the agricultural research and extension delivery systems, the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) could not therefore have come at a more opportune time. We have the realization that our own country research activities Sierra Leone cannot be sustainable. That is why when we had the opportunity for Sierra Leone to benefit from the WAAPP funding, I encouraged my Minister of Agriculture and all his staff to make sure that we meet all the requirements expected of us without delay. I am therefore pleased that we have reached this point.

 

We appreciate the recognition accorded Sierra Leone to host the National Centre of Specialization for mangrove rice for the sub-region. As the Programme gets operational, this Centre is expected to lead research in the generation and adoption of improved technologies for mangrove rice for the use of the sub-region. This comes with a huge challenge and responsibility for which the country pledges to do its best to ensure that the confidence bestowed on us is not undermined. We also note that as part of the program funding, the Mano River Union (MRU) would be supported to establish a food security hub in the MRU countries. We believe that this will further strengthen the integration of our 4-member countries of La Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone..

 

The World Bank and ECOWAS, through the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) are providing huge opportunities for enhancing our capacities for improving the productivity and profitability of different value chains. We will seize this opportunity, we will enhance agricultural productivity and together we will bring home the fruits of the Agricultural transformation of Africa.

 

Mr Chairman, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it now my honour to formally open the WAAPP meeting. I wish you all very fruitful deliberations.

 

God bless you!


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