Wednesday, February 21, 2007

$675,000 UNDP Support to food security in Sierra Leone

The UNDP’s Decentralisation specialist in Agriculture, Tanzila Watta Sankoh has in an exclusive interview with the Awareness Times revealed that, as part of the UNDP support to the Food Security Project of the Government of Sierra Leone (GOSL), the sum of US$675,000 has been used to purchased 72 manual hullers and 33 rice mills.

She also disclosed that, 31st March 2007, has been slated as date for the delivery. Madam Tanzila Watta Sankoh made mention of the hullers and rice mills, whilst outlining the achievements of smallhold farmers organized into groups of approximately 400 members known as Agricultural Business Unit (ABU). She stated that there are about 700 ABU’s formed country wide.

Presenting a paper on food security to journalists, on the first day during the UNDP/SLAJ in house media training workshop at UNDP headoffice in Freetown, she further highlighted some of the achievements such as the construction of processing sheds for the installation of rice mills. She explained that they have also organized workshops, held discussions on community radios on business enterprise development and procured and distributed processing equipment and mobility. Tanzila Watta Sankoh also stated that, they have trained farmers on financial managerial skills country wide.

She said some of the challenges face by the ABU are low literacy level of farmers, poor infrastruction market outlets and roads, storage facilities, resource mobilization, and weak capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture to provide services.

Tanzila, however state that, farmers are appreciative of the knowledge and skills gained through UNDP support noting that although the lack of capital management skills and post harvest facilities continue to undermine their efforts to attain food security, the planned activities for 2007 -2009 will target eliminating the above constraints.

In her presentation earlier, she said that food security means the availability, accessibility and affordability of food for all. Tanzila Watta Sankoh said, agriculture employs almost 80% of Sierra Leoneans.

Source: Awareness Times