At a meeting with the Sierra Leone Women Farmers Forum (SLeWoFF), President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma on Monday 7 August urged farmers to focus on producing high yields rather than the size of their farms.
He also encouraged farmers to target the international market through exports of local produce as other countries are doing thereby accruing much needed foreign exchange for the country, and assured of government's continued support towards agricultural productivity.
The president, who was visibly buoyed by statements from various speakers said, their remarks were indicative of the remarkable impact government has made in the sector through effective policies taken to impact the lives of farmers despite the challenges. He commended the Agriculture Ministry for its endeavour to ensure government’s support towards agricultural productivity reaches the targeted farmers which, he noted, was difficult before now. President Koroma recognized the ability of women to create a world of difference, reiterating the fact that with the level of commitment and enthusiasm exhibited by them, “we shall surely reach our destination”.
Giving a brief background of SLeWoFF, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security Hon. Marie Jalloh said she introduced the Forum in Sierra Leone as she was moved and inspired by the success and achievement of Zambia Women Farmers Forum during her visit to Zambia. And since its introduction she emphasized, SLeWoFF through government's varied support has been doing well in the country. She said the purpose of the visit was to express thanks and appreciation for his unequivocal support to women farmers across the country. SLeWoFF comprises women farmers from all 14 districts across Sierra Leone.
President of SLeWoFF Orya Kargbo who indicated government's specific support to women farmers across the country including machinery, supply of fertilizers, seedlings, capacity building, spoke of her forum's preparedness to take the lead in agriculture in the country.
Speakers from all 14 districts reported on their successful farming activities which they said are not limited to just rice farming and other crops but also livestock to feed the nation. They commended Professor Patrick Monty Jones and his Deputy Marie Jalloh for their regular visits to their farm sites, calling the two ‘farm ministers’ who could not be deterred from visiting their farms to see progress for themselves. Their appointments to the ministry, they said, were quite in place.
Complementing the women farmers in expressing gratitude for the opportunity granted to SLeWoFF, Prof Monty Jones intimated how best he has been explaining the vision of President Koroma especially the priority given to agriculture in terms of productivity, and encouraged farmers to not just produce for the table, but also for the market. He reported of 590,000 metric tons of average production when he took up office, and in 2016 production rose to 698,000 metric tons with target rate of 738,000 metric tons for food sufficiency.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.