By Hassan Bruz :
Northern Bureau Chief
If the determination of the People of Port Loko District in the promotion of Agricultural activities is to be emulated by Farmers in the other Regions of the Country, then the ultimate goal of National Food Security is bound to be achieved even before the slated period. This is the belief of the District Director of Agriculture in the Northern District of Port Loko-Eddie Laya Bewoh. He based his perception on the tremendous input so far made in the Agricultural Sector. He said the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security has not only made some value addition to the produce of Farmers, but has also constructed several Agricultural Business Centres, Rehabilitated Feeder Roads, and Established a lot of Demonstration Farms in addition to the Massive Tree Crop Production in the District.
The Port Loko District Director of Agriculture made reference to the 66,000 Cashew and other Assorted Seedlings he has at hand for onward distribution to interested persons and the Multi National NARICA Rice Dissemination Project [MNRDP] which was started in 2005 in a bid to produce NARICA Rice Seed for dissemination to viable Farmer Groups and Potential Farmers in the District. He said the NARICA Project kicked off with 4 Components including Demonstration, Participatory Varietal Selection in Farmer Plots, and the Community Based Seed Multiplication[CBSM ] for which 62.5 Kg was provided to each Community.
Joseph Sahr Karimu is the Extension Officer and Head of NARICA Seed Project in the District. He said support was also provided to Farmers in the form of Seed Rice, Fertilizer, Tools, Jute Bags, Tarpaulin, Insecticides and Tractors.
In terms of Infrastructure, the Project Officer said, Grain Stores equipped with De stoner, Drying Floor, Thresher , and Rice Mill were offered to Farming Groups. The Extension Officer in an interview with the Sierra Leone News Agency [SLENA], the Farmers also benefited from training Workshops, on Rice Production Techniques, Tools Management, Fertilizer Application Methods, Herbicide and Insecticide Application including Harvesting and Post Harvesting. He explained how the District received a 100 kg of Foundation seed rice from Benin through the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute[SLARI] to the Ministry and that the consignment was distributed to 3 viable Farmer Groups in the Maforki Chiefdom to carry out the multiplication exercise through Line Planting.
According to Councillor Hassan Mustapha Kamara who is also the Co coordinator of the Mamomoya Farmers Association – one of the 3 viable Farmer Groups selected for the Pilot Phase, NARICA has eased a lot of constraints left behind by ASREP- another Agricultural Project that was operating in the District. While expressing thanks and appreciation to the Management of NARICA for the timely intervention, a Master Farmer in the person of Abu Bakarr Kamara said, their Production has been immensely improved with quality seeds. He said they have now realised that Line Planting is far better than their age old system of random Planting. He said his Association would therefore be very much happy, if the Project could help them with a Store, Thresher and a Drying Floor to address the issues of post harvest loss.
It would worth the while to know that the First Phase of this Project which ended in 2010,had a total of 350 Farmer Groups and about 85 Potential Farmers. As outlined by the District Director of Agriculture himself, Port Loko can now boast of 500 Kg of NARICA Seed Rice out of the 120 Kg initially received. He noted that the new method of farming has been embraced largely because it impacted positively on Farmers. He said NARICA has early maturity, gives a high yield, and can be planted more than 2 times a year. NARICA has a very good eating quality and a very high Nutritive value. During the implementation period of this Pilot Phase, Farmers were able to benefit from a series of Training Programme including Rice Production Techniques, Tools Management, Fertilizer and Insecticide Application Methods.
The Project is so widely been accepted by Farmers that most have already prepared their Swamps for Multiple Cropping. They have therefore prevailed on the District Director to influence the second Phase of the Project, which they are anxiously waiting for. Now have a look at some of the NARICA Farms in Maforki Chiefdom with the District Director and Team continue the routine visits…