Vice President Juldeh Jalloh Launches Grants worth over 18 Million Euros to 15 Entities, as part of GoSL-EU (BAFS) Project
His Excellency Vice President Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh has launched over 18 million euros grant contracts to fifteen entities, as part of the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) and European Union’s Boosting Agriculture for Food Security Project (BAFS) at an event held at the Miatta Conference car park in Freetown.
The grants will enable the beneficiaries implement activities that will promote innovative and integrated farming techniques that will enhance market linkages for smallholder farmers and build their capacities to improve on their incomes as well as food and nutrition. It would also support women and youth employment through small and medium size enterprise development activities.
In her opening remarks, as Chairman, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Fatmata Mustapha said the initiative clearly fits into their national agricultural transformation plan which has four key priority pillars. She said as a Ministry, the theme of their overall operation this year was increased production and productivity.
Mrs Mustapha reminded the successful entities that grants were tied to objectives that must be met; encouraging them to take full advantage of the need to use the grants to further capacitate their organisations in increasing production and productivity along value chains.
The Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai, who noted the numerous challenges facing the agriculture sector ranging from low productivity, use of rudimentary technology, low level of infrastructure for marketing among others; stated that the challenges have been recognised and addressed in the Medium Term National Development Plan (2019-2023), in cluster 2.1: improving the productivity and commercialisation of the agricultural sector.
Dr. Kai-Kai said beyond that, His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio has also identified Human Capital Development as a flagship program and addressing agriculture and food security for the population was firmly part of that important presidential, and by extension the people’s agenda.
Tom Vens, the EU Ambassador said that he was convinced the new approach could unlock private investment and exploit significant opportunities in the agricultural sector with a specific focus on jobs for the youths. He said what was witnessed were the result of a highly competitive process, in which a total of 67 applications, 15 projects emerged. He noted that it represents the EU and Sierra Leone’s commitment to take their partnership for investment and jobs to the next level.
In his statement, the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Dennis Vandi said the Ministry would always provide the requisite enabling environment for the private sector and development that would seek to improve the agriculture sector. He noted that particular attention must always be given to the rural people, whose main source of livelihood depended on farming.
Mr. Vandi admonished the grantees to work collaboratively with the community people to ensure that their livelihoods are improved, thereby accelerating productivity. He said the government was always committed to improving the agricultural sector, which was key in President Bio’s agenda.
Delivering his keynote address, the Vice-President, Juldeh Jalloh expressed his gratitude to the EU for facilitating this project; noting that it was an important milestone in the Government’s drive for economic diversification.
He said that President Julius Maada Bio has over the years continued to reiterate that agriculture was a priority to boost food self-sufficiency, support the various value chains to encourage the growth of small-scale industries and creating over 24,000 employment for women and the youth.
“As a government, we are embarking on an elaborate school-feeding program and we believe that a project of this nature will support school-feeding in every district. The President Bio-led Government would continue to provide the requisite leadership to ensure that grantees deliver on the intended objective and results, and we will ensure to coordinate and monitor the entire process”, Dr. Juldeh Jalloh ended.
The EU support to BAFS grantees will cover export cash crops and sustainable agriculture, diversification (Crops and Livestock), support to short value chains including (non-formal) micro enterprises produced with artisanal methods and a limited number of intermediaries between smallholder farmers and the market and support to large-scale value chains integrating formal and already well-established SMEs in the agribusiness sector.
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