The Chief Minister said that apart from the free quality education, the government’s second priority is agriculture.
“A country will never develop if it fails to feed its people. That is why His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio came here in Kenema last year, for the first time after his 2018 elections victory, to launch the QPF. The President in his speech assured you all of his Government’s commitment to revamping the agricultural sector,” he noted.
David Francis added that the annual agriculture produce fair is aimed at showcasing the hard work of farmers, giving excellence to those with quality harvest and motivate others to emulate the winners.
Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Edward Hinga Sandi and his deputy, Rev. Abraham Sesay-Jones, spoke about the significance of farming in Sierra Leone, especially of growing cash crops that are helping to develop the economies of Ivory Coast and Ghana.
They pledged the government’s continuous commitment to supporting agriculture, which could help reduce the importing of foods – especially rice, as well as promote economic diversification and employment.
The Executive Chairman of the Produce Monitoring Board, Dr. James Vibbi, said that the theme of this year’s event is “Quality Produce for Sustainable Development”, adding that without quality produce there would be no value-added; as he urges all farmers to register their business with the Government.
The Cocoa of Excellence Award was given to Sahr Bangura from Kono as the best farmer in Sierra Leone. Presenting the award to Sahr Bangura on behalf of the Government, the Chief Minister congratulated Mr. Bangura for making Sierra Leone proud. He encouraged the farmer to do more, urging others to emulate his performance.
During his tour of the various farm stalls, the Chief Minister visited the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau, where he said: “Our Government takes the Bureau very seriously because we cannot achieve quality export without conformity assessment from the Bureau.”
Head of DfID in Sierra Leone, Kobi Bentley, said that the event is significant because it celebrated the fact that electricity generated through solar power and transmitted through local mini-grids is now available in 54 rural communities across the country.
She said that the project will run for the next two years, and is expecting mini-grids to be provided in additional 40 larger rural towns and villages across the country.
In his address, President Bio said that the project is aligned with his government’s commitment to produce cleaner, cheaper and more inclusive energy in rural communities across the country, so as to achieve the country’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7 – “producing modern energy for all”.
Bio said that the project will also support his government’s human capital development drive by playing an important role in the storage of vaccines and other medications in health centres; increase the study time at schools and homes; and also provide additional resources through technology.
“This project will help support small scale enterprises by stimulating economic activities; and will also help agricultural activities through the preservation of foodstuffs. We will replicate and promote this RREP model and extend energy access to more Sierra Leoneans,” he assured.