It can be recalled that the President of the South African Chamber of Commerce in America, Mr. Willem Ellis shew great interest to invest in rice cultivation in the country. Mr. Ellis visited to Torma Bum to assess the agricultural potential the community has, of which he is ready to bring in farmers to invest.
The Government of Sierra Leone has already committed itself to provide $750, 000 counterparts funding towards the Sierra Leone Development Program (SLDP) investment project, which is expected to start in September this year. The vision is to establish large scale farming, support supply chains and export high quality products under a Sierra Leone Brand. This will be done under a sustainable plan and that benefits of the large scale farming will be extended to the small holder farmers in order to significantly increase and intensify farm development. In partnership with investment companies in the United States, new production methods and other opportunities would be pursued.
The project will employ about 20, 000 farm families, and will directly benefit 85,000 to 100, 000 people that will be involved in rice, vegetable and maize production in over 100, 000 hectares of land. The project will provide hydroelectricity powered through the Sewa River, a mini airport and make the Torma Bum Rivers very busy with ships coming for locally produced and processed agricultural stuffs. Women and youths will be actively engaged, and the project will apportion some percentage of its profit to the community.
Professor Monty Jones informed the people that the vision of President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma is to enable farmers increase production and productivity. “We want farmers to produce more, eat more, sell more to make money for themselves, their families and their communities,” he said, and added that if farmers want to get rich they should move from subsistence farming to mechanized farming. The Minister admonished farmers to make good use of the Community Banks by obtaining loans to increase production and productivity.
Prof. Jones promised to engage with his staff to come up with a special program for Torma Bum, which has the capacity to feed the entire nation and save for export.
The National Programme Coordinator MAFFS/IFAD programmes Mr. Mohamed Tejan-Kella, established a rice company ten years ago with a single tractor and with 150 acres of land. Presently, he can boast of ten tractors and twenty staff. Mr. Tejan-Kella said Sierra Leone should make good use of the land by providing a good irrigation scheme that will enable farmers to cultivate three times a year. He also named the problem of fertilizer and good seeds, which affects rice cultivation. “We have no reason to be poor and import rice. It is an insult to see as Agriculturists to be seeing the land laying waste without cultivation,” he said.
Hon. Arthur Harvey, Board Chairman of Sierra Leone Roads Authority said they will supervise road construction work that will soon commence so as to enable Torma Bum become the solution to Sierra Leone’s food security problem.
Welcoming the Minister and team, the Paramount Chief of Bum Chiefdom, Hon. PC Alex Kainpumu commended President Ernest Bai Koroma for providing them with the biggest rice mill in the country, and requested that it should be made to function properly. He assured of his people’s support in restoring the lost glory at Torma Bum.