Speaking at the signing ceremony the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Momodu Kargbo said the Agriculture Ministry accounts for about 50% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and therefore has the potential to contribute significantly to job creation and increase income, especially in the rural areas.
The Minister further stated that the Agriculture Sector’s potential has not been realized due to some challenges including predominance of the subsistence farming, inadequate rural infrastructure, extension of service and agricultural research as well as limited access to finance resulting to low agricultural productivity.
Kargbo explained that while progress has been made in domestic food production, Sierra Leone still continues to rely on imported food including rice, meat, poultry and other basic food items that affect the local currency.
Kargbo added that government has embarked on agricultural transformation programme to diversify the economy, support value addition and also reduce food importation and create job opportunity but notes that the success of the programme requires collaboration between the public and private sectors to ensure agriculture is seen as a business rather than just a government project.
The Minister said the focus of the programme “Boosting Agriculture and Food Security” which includes among others; promoting commercial agriculture is in the right direction as it will contribute to government’s objective of transforming the sector to improve food security and employment.
Peter Versteeg, Head of the European Union Delegation in Sierra Leone affirmed that the current EU support to Sierra Leone under the 11th EDF National Indicative Programme (NIP) covers the sectors of agriculture, education, infrastructure, governance and civil society with a total contribution of three hundred and seventy six billion euro spanning from the period 2014-2020, noting that the European Union contribution to the agriculture and food security aims at consolidating the achievements of the previous EDF as well as develop the Agenda for Prosperity’s project, thereby fueling inflationary pressures.