After through scrutiny, stakeholders on Wednesday 28th April 2021 unanimously adopted and validated theNational Action Plan for United Nations Decade of Family Farming in Sierra Leone at the Mandela Hall of the Dohas Hotel, Towama in Bo, Southern Sierra Leone.
On behalf of the government of Sierra Leone, the Deputy Acting Director of Extension in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Michael Kalainkay officially announced the validation of the document amidst thunderous applause from the 80 participants, drawn nationwide from academia, NGOs, CBOs, the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone and the media.
The seven pillars of the United Nations Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF) are to develop an enabling policy environment to strengthen family farming, support youths and ensure the generational sustainability of family farming, promote gender equity in family farming and the leadership role of rural women, strengthen family farmer organisations and their capacities to generate knowledge, represent farmers’ concerns and provide inclusive services in rural areas.
Other pillars are to improve socio-economic inclusion, resilience and well-being of family farmers, rural households and communities, promote sustainability of family farming for climate-resilient food systems and strengthen the multi-dimensionality of family farming to promote social innovations contributing to territorial development and food systems that safeguard biodiversity, the environment and culture.
In his statement, the Assistant Representative of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations in Charge of Programs, Harding Wuyangoreaffirmed the commitment of FAO in support of the UNDFF National Action Plan (NAP) for Sierra Leone and its implementation and encouraged all stakeholders to give their maximum expertise to ensure an inclusive and quality UNDFF (NAP) for the benefit of family farmers.
The plan is conceived for 10 years, in correspondence with the UNDFF 2019-2028, the result of an extensive process of discussion in a two-day’ workshop among agricultural sector institutions, civil society, especially FBOs, local government, academia and international cooperation agencies.
Mr. Harding Wuyangoalso revealed that on the 29th May 2019, the United Nations Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF) Global Action Plan (GAP) was officially launched by the FAO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Rome, Italy adding that the GAP is a tool to implement strategies, policies, and investment at global, regional, national and local levels, with an integrated approach.
He enlightened that the UNDFF GAP officially approved in Rome recommends that governments, public entities and agencies develop National Action Plans (NAPs) in an inclusive manner, involving family farmers and other key stakeholders including the National Committees for Family Farming, continued that the NAPs can serve as consolidated frameworks of action at national level for the support of Family Farming articulating that NAPs include context and country-specific actions, thus providing a roadmap for countries and regions to progress with the implementation of the UNDFF, allowing for the building of accurate interlinkages to the broader SDG process and giving value to the multi-dimensional contribution provided by family farming.
According to the Assistant FAO Representative, building on existing national strategies, activities and processes and exploring new instruments and mechanisms, the NAPs can promote policy coherence, multi-actor and inter-institutional cooperation, with the aim of mainstreaming and integrating family farming-related issues into the wider food and agricultural policies and strategies, as well as in the broader social and environmental policies.
“The NAPs provide an inclusive umbrella for all relevant national stakeholders to consolidate, align and reinforce their actions and define policy interventions in support of family farming across different sectors at the national level. Actions should be build based on an agenda and a strategic vision that intertwines national priorities with the general objectives of the UNDFF. Furthermore, NAPs can include specific commitments based on the jointly identified needs and priorities and translate them into public policies, programs, regulations and investment. Actions can be aligned to the indicative actions proposed in the seven pillars of the GAP and are to be tailored and adopted to national and local conditions,”Mr. Wuyangounderscored.
He further recommended that the process to develop a NAP should be inclusive, supportive and enhancing the participation of all actors including family farmers and appealed to all stakeholders for policy dialogue aimed at coordinating and complementing actions in support of family farming to identify key partners in the identification, design, implementation and monitoring phases stressing that this process guarantees that all actors provide their complementary contributions according to their specific roles and responsibilities, promoting multi-actor collaboration in order to mobilize key players, convert identified needs into concrete actions, ensure empowerment and agency that leads to efficient processes, effective results and sustainable impact.
He went on to state that the NAPs comprise practical mechanisms for advancing sustainable food production, creating rural development, fighting rural poverty, safeguarding biodiversity, maintaining culture and thereby ensuring the future for sustainable food production for humanity for a holistic standpoint disclosing that the plan aims to strengthen family farming by the development of an enabling environment for its sustainable development, the improvement of family farmers’ livelihood and the promotion of territorial governance.
In his powerpoint presentation, the national consultant, Mr. Frank Webber observed that a lot of work has been done to validate the document that would be adopted and later launched by government to stand the test of time and urged all to improve the lives of family farmers in the country underscoring that the laudable venture would also help promote agriculture in the country.
Some of the recommendations highlighted by participants include sustainability of family farming, that 10% of the national budget be allocated to agriculture by 2023, that the Ministry of Agriculture is the highest decision-making body in terms of agriculture in the country, that collaboration with donors and resource mobilization are key for sustainability of the project as well as communication with the media.
Other stakeholders who made salient statements at the ceremony included the Acting Chief Agriculture Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture,Dr. Mohamed A. Sheriff who disclosed that youth farms would be established in all chiefdoms nationwide as well as rehabilitation of roads to link production centers to the markets.
He also informed that the economy would be diversified with the cultivation of various crops including animal husbandry, improvements made on land management and research and that after 40 years, a National Soil Survey is currently ongoing to know the types of soils in the country, their locations and the types of plants/crops to be planted.
Highlights of the workshop were the group work and presentations, general discussions on the entry points and implementation actions while the objectives of the workshop and introduction of the agenda were done by Mr. Ibrahim Bangura of FAO.