Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs, Lusine Kallon has officially turned the sod for the construction of a Farm Gate Market for youths engaged in the National Farm at Masiaka.
Before turning the sod, he informed his audience that President Julius Maada Bio had made it abundantly clear in his speeches to parliament and at other events that his vision is to use agriculture as the engine for sustainable youth employment, economic development and food self-sufficiency; the reason why his government at this point in time is laying much emphasis on youth involvement in agriculture.
He added that it is not enough to talk about agriculture without creating the necessary facilities but providing the relevant outlets for easy access to farms and farm markets is also very important. He added that the youth in the Masiaka locality would benefit directly, adding that the ministry had no hand in selecting who were to be involved but rather it was the community that selected who were to be involved. He maintained that the cost of putting up the structure is estimated at Le200 million.
Project Field Manager at the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Frank Bio informed his audience that the ministry has what it calls the Farm Gate Market. He explained that the National Youth Farm is far from commercial spots and therefore it is important for the youths to have a structure closer to the farm where they can display their products for consumers to buy. He added that the ministry thought it fit to construct the Farm Gate Market to establish the fact that the youth farm project is not only on paper but an actual reality while the Farm Gate Market is to enable the youth farmers to market their products with less hassle on the Masiaka highway. He added that similar markets would be constructed for other youth farms in Kono, Tonkolili, Koinadugu and Kenema to help youth farmers bring their products from the farms to areas where buyers could have easier access to the farm produce. He said this development is to encourage the youths to understand that agriculture is a sustainable business. In addition, Mr. Bio said they would in the near future link the youth farmers to bigger commercial markets for them to realize their fullest potential and create wealth for themselves. He maintained that the importance of the Farm Gate Market is for youths engaged in agriculture to have a structure where they can showcase their produce, put food on their tables and create wealth for themselves while contributing to economic development and boosting food self- sufficiency.
On behalf of the village, Chief Pa Santigie Sesay, together with the Councilor Abu Bakarr Bangura and other prominent elders, Mohamed Koroma and Alpha Kamara expressed their thanks and appreciation to the Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs for considering his village for the turning of the sod for the construction of a Farm Gate Market. He prayed for the health of the President Julius Maada Bio and members of his government for bringing such a massive project to their chiefdom. He added that the Paramount Chief gives his blessing to the project, adding that it goes a long way to show that the government of President Bio is diversifying development so as to reach all areas of the country for the benefit of especially the youths who are mostly unemployed.
Port Loko District Ward Councilor Abu Bakarr Bangura (SLPP), in his few remarks thanked the Youth Affairs Ministry for considering his ward for the youth farm project. He added that he is happy about the achievement as it would bring employment and development to the ward and the district as a whole.
Highlights of the event were the handing over of Le15 million cheque as compensation for the land on which the Farm Gate Market is to be built and the official turning of the sod by the Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs, Lusine Kallon.
Ing. Saffa Turay leading the construction project said he hopes to hand over the structure by the end of the second week in March 2020. He said it entails other components like a water well, adding that when completed, it can accommodate up to fifty people.