The country’s Finance Ministry states in its Government Statement of Economic Diversification under the Agriculture sector as stated in the 2017 GOVERNMENT BUDGET that: “In agriculture, greater efforts will be directed in diversifying food consumption and intensify choices through increased production of not only rice (the staple), but also cassava, cocoa yam, sweet potato, and millet as potential close substitute of rice.”
This policy statement, according to Mr. Daramy would only yield a positive dividend when resources are made available for implementation. He revealed that for the past ten years the country has met international benchmarks with annual increase in agricultural production. “We want to continue this trend so as to make our country food self-sufficient,” he said, and added that it is frustrating that since January to date the Ministry of Finance has not provided a single cent to our Ministry.
“We want to rollout support to farmers across the country. We are calling on the Ministry of Finance to allocate the required financial resources to the Agriculture Ministry to enable us implement projects and programs,” Daramy said.
The Government of Sierra Leone signed and adopted the Maputo Declaration which dictates 10% of the annual budget to be allocated to agriculture. If the said 10% is allocated the Ministry will do all it could to make a great difference in the agriculture sector.
In 2016, Le54 billion was allocated to the Ministry , which was a little less than Le 6 billion and less than 1% of the national budget. The Ministry submitted a ten-year audit report last year, to show its level of transparency.
In spite of the current challenges, Daramy said the Ministry has made lots of successes such as support to onion farmers in a four-miles stretch land at Kafu Bullom Chiefdom; support to Good Heart Farming Association in Kamalo, Bombali District where farmers have cultivated onions in large scale, another mass cultivation of onions at Hanga Road in Kenema with cash transfer support from the Ministry.
The President Delivery Team attested that the production of rice increased by 18% in 2015 and a projection of 30% in 2016. Due to the remarkable increase, the government through the Ministry of Finance gave the sum of Le 5 billion to the Sierra Leone Produce Marketing Company (SLPMC) under the Trade Ministry to map up rice all over the country and supply the Military, Police, Correctional Centre Services, National Fire Force and some other state entities.
The largest palm oil nursing at Njala University with 300, 000 seedlings have already been distributed to farmers across the country. The cocoa and coffee seedlings were nursed in Kono, Kenema and Kailahun Districts, which were given out to community youths to form block farming.