With the vision of increasing food security and wealth by contributing to sustainable agricultural growth and effective agricultural research system, SLARI’s mission is to support agricultural growth through increasing productivity by the generation and promotion of innovative technology and the empowerment of stakeholders. This, in turn, is being achieved through the delivery of: appropriate technologies, improved policy and advocacy, increased capacity amongst stakeholders, stronger and better coordination and collaboration between SLARI and partners, and better dissemination of information/knowledge.
The visit of the Minister of Agriculture recently to the SLARI Office at Njala was seen as great blessing for management and staff who presented their challenges faced. Amongst the several challenges presented to the Minister are: underfunding to conduct research, poor water and electricity supply, poor staff capacity, low salary scale of which they expect it to be in line with that of the University.
SLARI has been given 20 acres piece of land in the Western Area Rural District to construct its own headquarters as it are facing lots of constraints at its current Tower Hill Office.
SLARI’s Director, Dr. Joseph Kargbo said the institute is vying to become a centre of excellent, which is why they want to open more centres. “We want to attract funding for major projects,” he said, and added that they need more Lab Technicians for more effective and efficient work. Dr. Kargbo however admonished his staff to put up their best for SLARI. “Whatever you do have in mind that you are doing it for the benefit of the nation,” he said.
Responding, the Minister of Agriculture paid tribute to SLARI for doing lots of work that are making impact in the country today. Prof. Monty Jones informed his audience that Sierra Leone is lagging behind in terms of agriculture productivity in Africa. Productivity, he said is very important because it shows the progress made in increasing growth. “When you conduct a research you should not just look at production but rather go into the value chain. Your research will only create impact when it reaches the field,” the Minister said, and warned that the predicament faced in the sector must stop. “We must help farmer get to agriculture commercialization so that they contribute in making the country becomes self-sufficient. Part of your mandate is to take value addition to farmers and you can also contribute to proper marketing of our produce,” says Prof. Jones. He called on staff of SLARI to promote prosperity, reduce poverty and attain food self-sufficiency. “I cannot abandon SLARI. I will ensure that your problems are looked into and solved amicably,” he assured.
The Minister had the opportunity to cut the tape for the official opening of the Post-Harvest Agricultural Engineering building that is constructed by the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP).
Professor Monty Jones also met with the Senior Staff Members of Njala University at Mokenday where he challenged them to take the institution back to its glorious days and to do their best to make it become a centre for excellence in the world.