By Umaru S. Jah, Information Attaché — Germany
The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Professor Patrick Monty Jones has expressed his determination to ensure that productivity doubles the preceding amount to promote nutrition and food security in the country.
He attributed the above to his ongoing mobilization exercise, involving various stakeholders within the sector. The mobilization process will identify priority needs of all entities across the value chain and provide them with the necessary support to enhance productivity.
The youths, whom he believed are also crucial in the development of agriculture, would also be provided with incentives to further encourage them in small and large-scale farming. This is why he said his ministry, within the framework of President Koroma’s recovery programme, has vowed to employ ten thousand youths across the country. To achieve this, the Minister said his ministry would ensure that more tools and seeds would be provided to the youths, as well as access to finance and training facilities.
He said, his vision to increase productivity in the country is in response to President Koroma’s ambition to ensure that Sierra Leone becomes a middle-income country by 2035. Given the fact that Agriculture is an engine for the country’s economic growth, the Minister expressed his ministry’s determination to propel the President’s ambitious agenda.
As a direct response to the aforesaid, the Minister has now deemed it necessary to go beyond mobilizing national entities ranging from value chain, research extension, production and value addition, to international investors and bilateral partners — hence his recent participation in a conference on “Policies Against Hunger,” in the German capital of Berlin. The theme for this year’s conference was “Sowing the seeds for nutrition – which food systems do we need?”
Organized by the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the conference was aimed at, among other things, identifying ways in which key strategies mainly diversification, processing, empowerment of women and nutrition, could help achieve adequate nutrition across the globe. Prominent among the panellists, was Sierra Leone’s Minister of Agriculture, Professor Monty Jones.
His contribution regarding best practices and implementation of policy making within the framework of food security and nutrition thrilled his audience during the well-attended conference.
Making his presentation, the Minister stressed the importance attached to food security and nutrition under the President’s Agenda for Prosperity and by extension, the post Ebola recovery programme. Mechanisms have since been put in place by the government, thereby providing the enabling environment for not only agricultural activities but also free health care services to lactating mothers, children under the age of five years and pregnant women in the country. Since the introduction of such programmes, the Minister said Sierra Leone has seen tremendous improvements in child mortality rate and the UN Human Development Index.
He believed that ensuring food security and nutrition also require effective collaboration among Ministries and Departmental Agencies (MDA’s) — a move his Ministry has undertaken in collaboration with the Ministry of health, trade and fisheries. The focus is to develop concerted and integrated programmes to support food security and nutrition in the country.
The Minister seized the opportunity to further engage key partners during the conference in Berlin. Among them were the German Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, Christian Schmidt, the Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Mueller and other meaningful development partners in the agriculture industry.
Discussions were mainly on collaboration and support towards developing Sierra Leone’s agriculture and acquiring badly needed inputs such as fertilizers, machinery like power tillers, big tractors and combine harvesters.
The Minister later met with both the Diplomatic and Local Staff of the Sierra Leone Embassy in the Federal Republic of Germany. He encouraged them to continue with their good work under the dynamic leadership of Ambassador Jongopie Siaka Stevens. He further expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the Ambassador and his Information Attaché Mr. Umaru S. Jah, whom he said were extremely instrumental in making sure that his visit was successful.
“The Ambassador and his information Attaché facilitated our bilateral meetings and have been with us through out since we arrived,” he noted.
The Minister was accompanied by his Communications expert, Mr. Titus Boye-Thomson.