Dr. Julius Maada Bio, the Sierra Leonean President recently launched the Regional Rice Value Chain Project in Torma Bum, in the Bonthe District of southern Sierra Leone, where he emphasised that food security is probably the most critical pillar in achieving the government’s human capital development priorities for the country.
He told locals, development partners and members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps, the Islamic Development Bank and BADEA present at the event that a well-nourished child or adult could stay healthy, live well, learn, fend for himself or herself and live a reasonably good quality of life.
“This project directly benefits 7,000 women and youth farmers, along with 35,000 farming families who are growing rice on 35,000 hectares of farmlands in the project locations. I am informed that the beneficiary identification and selection process was above board and merit-based.”
The President also noted that because the country did not produce sufficient food for its population, the government had increasingly spent hundreds of millions of dollars every year to procure food from the world market.
He added that a huge chunk of the country’s foreign reserves that could have been spent on education and healthcare among other urgent priorities for a a developing nation ended up being spent on importing increasingly expensive food items.
“In our governance assessment for our 2018 Manifesto and in our Medium-Term National Development Plan, we committed to working toward increasing the domestic production of food to significantly take care of our domestic needs and to ensure that the food produced domestically was available, affordable, and nutritious.
“We, therefore, decided on a well-thought-out, well-designed, well-implemented, and sustainable solution. We can transform our vast arable lands into massive food production centres and thus make our nation rice/food self-sufficient and also food and nutrition secure,” he said.