By Shifu Fadda
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) is one of the constituent Ministries of the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone that is charged with the growth and development of the Agriculture sector in the country. It is against this backdrop that Sierra Leone’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security is enthusiastically taking a bold step in achieving food security in the country. Since Joseph Ndanema took up the office a few weeks ago, his ministry is the first to have organized a three days consultative conference for Professional Staff to put together a comprehensive roadmap plan that will be handed over to the Minister today for onward presentation to the Chief Minister tomorrow at State House. Held at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Conference Hall, the comprehensive document entails quick winds plan for immediate activities, short-term plan for three to four months, a medium-term plan for about three years, and long-term plan for five years.
Addressing the meeting yesterday (Wednesday 23rd May 2018), Minister Joseph Ndanema said he is impressed about the way the professional staff have carried out the exercise to have a formidable plan that serves as a guide to the ministry to achieve its food security goal. “We need to manage the various sectors to address food security issues in the country. I am confident that the right thing will be done to help us have a development-oriented Ministry,” he said, and further remarked that his target is for the agriculture ministry to be number one in the country.
Mr. Ndanema pointed out that he took up the challenge to make agriculture services as an engine for growth and his administration will thoroughly look at things that have not been done to make them very active. “Our major problem, in the country is the staple food rice, which is why I want to have a stronger public-private partnership to make it readily available and at a cheaper price. This is why we are organizing ourselves to achieve food security through improvement of production and productivity,” the Minister said. He named other areas like developing irrigation systems, improve on crop and animal production, mechanized farming and other development activities to make agriculture deliver the expected results in the country.
The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Alhassan K. Kondeh said the three days meeting looked at priority areas like governance and research, attractive investment, crops and animal horse boundary; and four groups were separated to look at each of the four areas.
The Ministry seeks to improve agricultural production and productivity in order to achieve food security by providing an enabling environment for farmers and by promoting appropriate research, extension, input delivery and market systems, thereby improving rural incomes, reducing poverty and maintaining the natural environment. To do this, MAFFS formulates and implements appropriate Agricultural Policies and coordinates, designs and monitors agricultural programmes for the development of the agricultural sector.
The Ministry is currently operating within the “New Direction” Agenda of President Julius Maada Bio which is focused on raising the quantity of value-added products in agriculture as this is the effects of reducing food insecurity and poverty in the country. The major Goal is to make agriculture the engine for socio-economic growth and development towards the achievement of food security for all, employment opportunities, income generation and poverty reduction in Sierra Leone with the smallholder farmers being the focus.
The Ministry, under Mr. Ndanema, has prioritized commodity commercialization in order to boost production for consumption so as to reduce food insecurity and create a surplus for sales thereby reducing poverty.