3. Sierra Leone: President launches Smallholders Commercialization Programme (Sierra Express Media, Awoko)

| August 16, 2010

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President Ernest Bai Koroma has launched the Smallholders Commercialization Programme, or SCP, in Sierra Leone. The SCP is a nationwide initiative to increase the productivity of Sierra Leone’s agricultural sector. “We want agriculture to take the lead in development in Sierra Leone; thus we must move agriculture forward because most of our people are farmers,” he stated.

The Smallholders Commercialization Programme will run from 2011 until 2014. President Koroma said that under the SCP, farmers will be fully empowered. He wants farmers in Sierra Leone to be able to live a “very comfortable life.”

The SCP will provide good road networks, fertilizer, markets, training and extension services to farmers. The Farmer Field School extension approach will be adopted, in which farmer’s knowledge and experience are used as the basis for learning.

The government will support the formation of 2,750 farmer-based organizations. They will also set up 150 Agricultural Business Centres across the country. The Centres will be equipped with cassava graters, rice mills, drying floors and telephones. Farmers will be able to use these services, and access market information.

In addition, the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute has been reformed and expanded. Research is now conducted with the involvement of farmers. This ensures that innovations are developed and made available in line with farmer’s needs.

President Koroma disclosed that his government is investing almost 10% of the national budget in the agricultural sector. He urged farmers, especially the youth, to take full advantage of the opportunity to turn around their situation. ”The provision is a real motivation to help ourselves as individuals and our country,” he added.

The full government press release on the launch of the SCP can be read here: http://www.statehouse.gov.sl/test2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=698&Itemid=1.