Making their case as to why they deserve more budgetary allocation, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Samking Koihinia Brima said that the current budget allocation for the Ministry does not in any way reflect the commitment of His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio to transform agriculture as the engine for economic development.
He said that farming is a heritage in Sierra Leone but has been neglected for a long time due to less attention from the previous government, which made the country to be ranked among the Hungriest Countries in the World.
Mr. Brima informed his audience that the country has been losing annually three hundred billion Leones to seven families of importers of rice due to tax exemption, which he said would have instead been beneficial to improving the lives of local farmers and their families.
“This Ministry deserves more budget than the 2.3 percent if we are to see the agriculture sector become the engine for growth and development of our economy. For every ton of rice produced in Sierra Leone, the sum of sixty to seventy dollars is saved, but when you import that ton, you create another job for Asian farmers and their families. We have not only the arable identified lands of 5.4 million hectares, but we also have other places that are suitable for farming, and with manpower and other natural resources, this will help to drastically reduce rice importation,” he maintained.
He added that even the current school feeding budget, which is sixty nine billion Leones is more than the whole budget for the Ministry of Agriculture, which the entire population of Sierra Leone depends on for food security
Presenting the achievements and key priorities to his audience, the Permanent Secretary MAF, Mr. Mohamed Brima Daboh said that despite both the Minister and Deputy being new in their positions, they have been able to spot mistakes of the past at the Ministry and learned from them so that the Ministry can be able to provide food security for the 7.3 million Sierra Leoneans.