By Brima Dawson Kuyateh
Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), His Excellency Ernest Mbaimba Ndomahina who is also in charge of other neighbouring Countries including the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has unequivocally called for agricultural Cooperation between Sierra Leone and Vietnam. The Ambassador made the call during an audio-visual conference in which Vietnam’s Vice Foreign Minister and thirty-one (31) Ambassadors of various Countries resident in Beijing, PRC participated.
Presenting the Agriculture potentials of Sierra Leone, Ambassador Ndomahina said that his Country has an estimation of 5.4 million hectares of fertile arable land. He added that the agricultural sector partly comprising livestock and forestry is a critical economic component.
He went on to say that the sector employs about two third of the labor force and contributes more than sixty percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). “The country is endowed with favorable agricultural environment, abundant rainfall, tropical climate and several rivers with significant irrigational fertilities”, Ambassador Ndomahina affirmed.
Presenting Sierra Leone’s National Agricultural Transformation Strategy (2019 – 2023), under the leadership of President Dr. Julius Maada Bio, the Ambassador reiterated that agriculture is the backbone of the economy and that any tropical crop can grow in Sierra Leone. He stated that Sierra Leone is highly optimistic that the conference would provide ample opportunities for broadening the scope of cooperation between the two Republics, Sierra Leone and Vietnam.
Ambassador Ndomahina disclosed to the conference the intention of President Bio’s New Direction Government to doubling the production of rice, forestry and livestock in the coming years.
In that regard he went on to say that there are several opportunities for partnering in the supply of agricultural inputs like fertilizer, improved seeds, agro-chemicals, animal feeds and veterinary inputs, Ambassador Ndomahina encapsulated.
Adding that there are potential avenues for partnering with local farmers to expand cultivation, establish adequate storage and preservation facilities with value-added chains, thereby eliminating post-harvest losses especially perishable crops like vegetables and fruits.
In conclusion, he assured that Sierra Leone is a good bet for any potential agricultural investment from Vietnam, and that her entry into the Sierra Leonean market will be further facilitated by her abundant knowledge of tropical agriculture. Ambassador Ndomahina mentioned that there are huge market opportunities especially rice which is the staple food of Sierra Leone.