By: Amadu Femoh Sesay
The Sierra Leone Chamber for Agribusiness Development (SLeCAD) on Friday 18th April organized a welcome and congratulation dinner in honor of the Special Adviser to the President and Ambassador At Large, Prof. Dr. Monty Jones for his good work and tremendous support especially to the institution, the country and the world as a whole at the Country Lodge, Hill Station.
In his Keynote Address, Prof. Jones disclosed that SLeCAD is an active player in promoting the transformation of the country’s agriculture required to achieve food and nutrition security and sustainable development (Agro-industry) by helping to promote food security; nutrition security and health care (obesity); promoting non food commodities like bioenergy, rubber, fiber etc; environmental sustainability and mitigation of climate change.
Prof. Jones prepares to cut his cake while Hon. Kargbo, MAFFS and others watch
The Special Adviser to the President said the institution is contributing to sustaining the high economic growth rate the country is experiencing but observed that there are challenges that the country needs to address citing sustaining the growth over the long-term, raising the growth rate and making the growth rate more inclusive and environmentally sustainable.
He said its creation was the right decision and a bold step for Sierra Leone stating that the country requires an institution that will focus on the real issues and exploit opportunities for commercialization of agriculture; advocate and promote private investment into the agriculture sector.
The Ambassador At Large maintained that the institution should create a balance between production and agro-industry as the share of the agribusiness in the agriculture value chain in Sierra Leone is only about 20% while the global figure is 78%. He noted that the balance could be created by enhancing agricultural productivity; stimulating private sector participation; upgrading value chain approach; strengthening innovation capacity; promoting innovation financing; improving infrastructure and energy; exploiting local and international demand for food, among others.
Prof. Jones disclosed that SLeCAD has a key role to play in the Agenda for Prosperity (A4P) Presidential Initiative on Agriculture, Fisheries and Agro-industry Development. He said the programme is geared toward enhancing food and nutrition security for the poor and vulnerable people in the country. The Special Adviser to the President insisted that the development of agribusiness and agro-industry is a key lever of the programme and will pave the way to transforming the nation’s economy and subsequently leading to development.
He observed that with active participation in the programme the country will be able to attain the inclusive, green middle income country status by 2030-2035 as envisaged in the A4P. Prof. Jones commended SLeCAD for the good work it has been doing so far and thanked them for organizing the welcome and congratulation dinner for him.
The Chairman of the ceremony who is also the Adviser to the President, Hon. Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo noted that it was necessary for Prof. Jones to be honored because of his good work in Sierra Leone, Africa and the wider world. “Prof. Jones is seen as a very important participant in the development of Africa and the world” he re-affirmed.
Hon. Kargbo described Prof. Monty Jones as a hard working, focused, well structured and dedicated patriot. He said the effort of the Prof has not gone in vain because his effort is still recognized in the country and the world.
The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS), Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay noted that for the betterment of the country, it was necessary for all to join forces together to develop the sector. He applauded Prof. Jones for his tremendous support to the country especially in promoting SLeCAD, the International Fund for Agricultural Transformation (IFAT) and Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI).
Dr. Sesay stated that the Ministry of Agriculture was setting up a strong coordination among his Ministry and other line Ministries adding that this will help a long way to promote the sector.
The Executive Secretary of SLeCAD, Ahmed Nanoh stated that Prof. Jones is a renowned Plant Breeder who tirelessly worked on the Genetic process to create the New Rice for Africa (NERICA) which gives higher yields, shorter growth cycles and more protein content than its Asian and African parents.
Mr. Nanoh said in 2007, The Time Magazine in the USA named him one of the 100 most influential persons in the world.
He disclosed that the Special Adviser to the President has won many awards citing the 2010 main Prize of the Niigata International Food Award in Japan, co-recipient of the ‘World Food Prize’ in 2004 along with Prof. Yuan Longping of China for developing NERICA, the Insignia of the Grand Officer of the Order of the Rokel by the President of Sierra Leone in 2011 for his work on NERICA, and the National Order of Merit of Cote d’Ivoire given by the Ivorian President in 2001, etc.
The Executive Secretary said the NERICA father had sacrificed all international jobs, opportunities to come and promote the Agribusiness Private Sector players under the leadership of President Koroma. He stressed that he was one of the brains behind the establishment of the institution and has been committed to promoting SLeCAD and its members; MAFFS; MTI; NAFFSL, Fisheries, among others.
Prof. Dr. Monty Jones was recently appointed President of the European Market Research Centre (EMRC), the world Agribusiness Forum focusing on Africa and he is the first African to hold the position.