After a lengthy debate on the agreements, the MPs unanimously approved the agreements.
According to Mr. Kargbo, the two related agreements for small holder commercialization and agri-business development project is phase 2, explaining that the earlier phase is just about concluding and “it was judged a success, this is why they have agreed to run the second phase”.
He said the second phase escalates the project at higher level involving value chain addition, stating that the first phase was focused on promoting small holder commercialization to foster reproductive business linkages between what happens at the farm level and the processors, noting that this is an attempt at bringing processors and producers together and that in the process, the market is assured particularly for the smallholder.
The second phase deals with the Apex Bank, stating that “the key problem with the Apex Bank is that it is undercapitalized and because of that it is not able to support community banks”.
Essentially, he said both agreements amount to a forty million dollars ($40,000,000) loan with the view of recapitalizing the Apex Bank, providing soft loans to eligible farmers, among others, informing MPs that 36 million dollars for the first phase and about 3.2 million dollars will go to the Apex Bank for it growth and development.
Looking at the project critically, he continued, is not all about agriculture, stating that part of the money will go to technical assistance and value chain services to build the capacities of farmers, rehabilitation and maintenance of selected feeder roads, build the capacity of state and non-state institution including the Ministry of Forestry and Food Security by providing short term training, among others.
He said the analysis of the project reveal that up to 50,000 smallholder will be affected by the project, disclosing that women and youth will be the special targets to benefit from the project.
He said the loan period is 37 years with a grace period of six years.
Both sides of the aisle who spoke to the motion were satisfied with both agreements.
According to Hon. Ibrahim B. Kargbo, “For the very first time we want to move away from the standalone agricultural practice, that is, planting rice and go to bed and sleep. This time we want to be certain that when we plant the rice, we process it so as to add value to the rice. We want to be certain that it is of good quality so that we can export it”.
Other parliamentarians said that they (MPs) are to be involved as they are representing their people, stating that they are integral to the successful implementation.
Also, debating on the motion, MPs said this agreement will move farmers from subsistence to commercialized farming method and also called for opportunities to be given to graduates in agriculture, among others.