Many people have commented that the President’s biggest human capital development achievement after the Free Quality Education is the Torma Bum and Rhombeh rice chain projects.
President Bio took a major step further in drastically reducing the country’s dependence on rice import which currently is up to USD400 million when he launched the Sierra Leone Regional Rice Value Chain Project at Torma Bum on Friday June 11th 2021.
Launching the project, President Bio said it 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. He noted that the government wants to make agriculture more attractive to young people and women.
The project’s operation sites are in Bum Chiefdom in Bonthe district in the South; and Mambolo and Samu Chiefdoms in Kambia District.
He added that there are prospects for expanding rice-value-chain development into other parts of this very fertile country in order for other regions to participate in this national food security project and reap the associated socio-economic benefits.
President Bio thanked our development partners, the Islamic Development Bank and BADEA who he said have been consistent partners on this journey, sharing the government’s views and planned with them for their support.
Food security, he said, is a central pillar among the country’s human capital development priorities as a nation, if not the most critical, noting that a well-nourished child or adult can stay healthy, live well, learn, fend for himself or herself, and live a reasonably good quality of life. The President pointed out that because we do not produce sufficient food for our population, we have increasingly spent hundreds of millions of dollars every year to procure food from the world market.
Besides that he said a huge chunk of our foreign reserves that could have been spent on education and healthcare, among other urgent priorities for a developing nation, end up being spent on importing increasingly expensive food items.
Giving the rationale for the project, President Bio who said he was very delighted to launch the Sierra Leone Regional Rice Value Chain Project (SL-RRVCP) traditional subsistence farming of low-yield seeds in small plots will not lead to domestic food sufficiency. The answer is in increased mechanization and larger acreage yields, more access to input, more advanced farming techniques, and more agriculture financing that expands private sector investments in agriculture.