The Oil Palm trade many people claimed is owned by West Africans, this is so because it potentials and viability on the African soil has been immense over the year. In its effort to revamp the trade in Sierra Leone, the Smallholder Commercialization Programme - Global Agriculture Food Security Programme is implementing a direct Tree crop support project that is aim at supporting three thousand farmers in its nine operational districts across Sierra Leone.
According to the Programme Manager, for the SCP-GAFSP project Peter Kaindaneh, the project he said emanated from the Maputo protocol which calls on African Leaders to provide a minimum of ten percent (10%) of the countries budget to promote agricultural activities in their respective countries. The $50million project is a flagship programme of the Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security, and it is expected to span for five years, with its key target to provide support to one hundred thousand farmers countrywide.
The project cut across the nine agricultural districts of Bo, Bonthe, Moyamba and Pujehun in the Southern region, Bombali, Tonkolili, Kambia and Port Loko in the Northern regions, and the Western Area Rural District in the western region of Sierra Leone.
Mr. Kaindaneh said the focus on up scaling agricultural production and productivity which covers rehabilitation of inland valley swamps, support to Tree Crops, Agribusiness Commercialization, Farmer Feed Schools to name a few.
Support to Tree Crop he said is a vital move to bring the country’s economy in it right footings, and as such Tree Crops are key cash crop necessary to transform Sierra Leone’s economy, as it has been a main source for revenue generation in some part of the country, he confirmed.
The Northern districts of Port Loko, Kambia, Tonkolili, Bombali and Western Urban in the Western Area are not conventionally Tree Crop predominated areas, as the IFAD operational areas has mostly been districts with huge Tree Crop potentials like Kenema, Kono, Kabala and Koinadugu district.
“We have a mandate to help farmer in the projects’ nine operational areas with over three thousand hectares of Tree crop, he said, but knowing that oil palm is the new gem that can thrive in every part of the country; we have however thought it prudent to replicate Tree Crop activities in all our operational districts across the country”, he noted.
Palm Elite, Mr. Kaindaneh furthered has been a key distributor of the improved Palm Oil variety across many countries in Africa, and as such, their Tenera variety is also being utilized in Sierra Leone by key Palm oil industries such like SOCFIN in the South and Gold Tree in the Eastern regions respectively.
Already, he said Bo, Moyamba, Pujehun and Tonkolili among the nine operational districts have benefited from their support of cocoa seedling distribution, as they were identified as potential areas for cocoa plantation, and for the other five districts, he added that they will be supported with the Tenera improved variety palm oil seed let.
As per distribution, he continued, stating that four among the nine districts will be benefiting from four hundred hectares of palm oil plantation each, and that of which would be distributed at sixty thousand each per district, and for those that had already benefited from the cocoa seedling support, he added that they would be allotted forty-five thousand seedlings and Western Area Rural district of which they will be supporting two hundred smallholder farmers.
The project unlike others, Mr. Kaindaneh said is a grant for the people of Sierra Leone, and targeting three thousand direct beneficiaries with each farmer having a hundred and eighty seed let of oil palm. “Our only urge is for them to take ownership of the project and farm for business”, he stated, as it will be at no cost, he confirmed.
By Samuel Koroma