The Project Manager for the Smallholders Commercialization Programme, Peter Kaindaneh has during an inspection exercise on the nursery site at Njala University Agriculture Unit said that over five hundred thousand oil Palm seed lets would directly benefits three thousand farmers across the project’s nine operational districts across Sierra Leone.
The project originally is $50million, and according to Mr. Kaindaneh over twenty- five million dollars have been exhausted with just $22 million presently in the project’s coffers.
The SCP – GAFSP, he furthered is a flagship programme of Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security, and it is expected to span for five years, with its key target to provide support to one hundred thousand farmers countrywide.
He said the project cut across the nine agricultural districts of Bo, Bonthe, Moyamba and Pujehun in the Southern region, Bombali, Tonkolili, Kambia and Port Loko in the Northern regions, and the Western Area Rural District in the western region of Sierra Leone.
Smallholder Commercialization Programme is the implementer of the project, as they are having direct support from the Global Agriculture Food security programme, with its main focus to support three thousand farmers in the projects nine operational districts.
The government he said aims to support the rural poor people, and as such, instead of their continual support to rice production which is the country’s staple food, they also decided on supporting the plantation of Tree crops that will enable farmers to realize more revenue at the end of each planting season.
Oil Palm he noted is very much resilient on the African soil, as its potentials and viability on the African climate has been immense over the years. The Terena improved variety, he said added only takes three years to produce palm fruit brunches, and that is expected would triple production and productivity on oil palm in Sierra Leone.
‘We have already nursed Five hundred and forty thousand Terena oil palm seed-lets, he said, stating that it agronomy is well handle by lead lecturers and students at Njala University Agriculture units at Mokonde village, Korie Chiefdom in the Moyamba district”.
Pivotal among the reasons for utilizing Njala he said as a hub nursery centre was the fact that the site could be used as an opportunity for students majoring on Agriculture to have a firsthand knowledge on what is constitute in site selection for the preparation of nursery, and that he noted is capacity boost.
The Tree Crop project, Kaindaneh furthered, would not be taken lightly, stating that the Oil palm seedlings is costing a well over a million dollars, and Njala University Crop division, he added is also receiving over Two Hundred and Eighty thousand dollars for the maintenance of the nursed oil palm seedlings.
Distribution wise, Kaindaneh said the project keenly seeks to revitalize Tree Crops production in nine operational districts, he noted that key districts in the north will be supported with four hundred seed-lets of the improved nursed oil palm variety, and for those districts with huge viability and potentials on both oil palm and cocoa, they will be supported with three hundred seed-lets of the nursed oil palm, as they will also benefit from the nursed cocoa seed-lets of which only Tonkolili in the Northern region will also benefit.
Speaking on behalf of Njala University, Technical Supervisor for the Nursery site, Fayia Augustine Kassoh thanked the Ministry and the SCP-GAFSP project Head for entrusting their confident of the capability of staff at the Njala university crop unit. He said they receive the first consignment of seedlets of about one hundred and thirty-five thousand which was deployed at the nursery site within a period of one week.
As a mean of having a well collated and codified information on the nursery site, Mr. Kassoh noted that the seed-lets were arranged into blocks as per consignment.
Kassoh assured the Ministry of Agriculture and the SCP- GAFSP Project Manager of having the first batch of one hundred and thirty-five thousand seed-lets distributed by first week June to the districts’ main nursery sites for its distribution to the farmers.
Speaking during the inspecting exercise, Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security, Professor Patrick Monty Jones expresses appreciation on the moves of the project to penetrate the project nursery site in Njala, stating that it will strengthen the crop science unit of the University, as this will be of direct benefit to the student, he opined.
Njala University, the Minister said used to be the hub for agricultural activities in not only the country, and but also the West African Sub region, and that want to see a reverse of those past glories acquired by the university. He informed that stakeholders at Njala that the moves is a direct venture from the Ministry through the SCP-GAFSP project to support Njala University.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.