BY MOHAMED ALIEU BAH (A BAH)
In order to emphasize on the priority this new direction administration has placed on agriculture but specifically on the production of the citizen’s staple food, rice, the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Mr. Joseph Jonathan Ndanema has reiterated to Sierra Leoneans that, rice is a commodity of political sensitivity, hence the reason why his institution has prioritized the cultivation of rice and has placed it at the top of its agricultural agenda. The Minister made this statement on Thursday 21st March this year at the ‘J and E Resort in Bo city’ while making his keynote address at the ‘TFA 2020 African Palm Oil Initiatives (APOI) SL Platform Stakeholders Workshop’ organized by the Sierra Leone conservation society in partnership with Solidaridad. “We are seriously developing the rice sector which is our key priority” the Minister affirmed.
He furthered that, it’s sickening to learn that, Sierra Leone, a Country with all the ecology to grow rice, uses a mouthwatering amount of $200,000,000(Two Hundred Million United States Dollars) just for the importation of this staple food from other countries. “MAF will prioritize rice until 100% importation is eliminated” he averred.
He said that, the second priority of MAF is Livestock. This is because according to some reliable international statistical data, Sierra Leone is ranked high in the malnutrition index which implies that, a huge number of Sierra Leoneans are malnourished which is as a result of inadequate consumption of nutrients such as meat.
The Minister revealed that, the third item on the MAF agenda is Crop Diversification and the fourth has to do with Forestry Conservation which he says, Forestry transformation is a key strategy placed on the MAF agenda and that, in their afforestation Initiatives, they will be outsourcing to other independent partners “in order to conquer deforestation MAF will engage the stakeholders in all the communities and form a synergy to combat deforestation “ he noted.
He concluded by calling on all and sundry to discourage the habit of felling trees because the trees are key components of human survival on planet earth. “The more we fell trees, the more we are prone to natural disasters, and the more our lives are threatened. If you cut a tree, plant two as replacement” he admonished.