He made this statement during a day regional validation of coffee and cocoa policies in Kenema district on Wednesday May 29, 2019.
Mr. Kamara said such a policy was timely for the Ministry as it will contribute significantly to the country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and foreign exchange.
The director said the policy will also give opportunity to women and youth to farm in cocoa and coffee as the produce is economically important to the development of farmers’ livelihood.
Councilor Kumba Nyandamoh Ward 98 Koidu City Chairperson Agric Committee said such a validation was very timely as the district is mainly dominated by mining activities.
Councilor said such a policy would motivate farmers in the district to undertake farming.
She appealed to government and donor partners to assist farmers in mechanized farming especially the women and youth.
Cocoa consultant Dr. Emmanuel Conteh said cocoa beans production is relatively low in Sierra Leone and estimate for 2018 indicates a national annual production of one million two hundred and thirty-one thousand two hundred and twenty (1,231,220) tons as compared to Ghana which is nine hundred million (900,000,000) tons. The validation of the policies brought in farmers and stakeholders from Kenema, Kono and Kailahun District respectively.
Dr. Conteh said lot of factors were responsible for the low yield of cocoa production in the country, and ranging from low gage price, lack of interest to loans, pests control etc.
He said technical knowledge of farmers on packaging methods of products were also affecting farmers to attract the international markets.
The lead consultant on cocoa said due to the porousness of the border areas where cocoa is grown was affecting farmers as their produce are easily smuggled out to neighboring countries where they get a better bargain.
He said inaccessible roads were also affecting farmers to transport their products after harvesting.
Dr. Conteh said cocoa is a major cash crops and that the policy framework is in line with NAT 2023 and aligned with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF).
Policy Officer for Boosting Agriculture and Food Security (BAFS), Mohammed Bah said the regional validation was the first ever held by the Ministry and partners.
Bah said consultants were hired by the Ministry and partners to get firsthand information from farmers in the three district, adding that lot of issues were highlighted by farmers ranging from lack of availability of markets to sell product, financing and pest control etc.
He said the validation of the policy on cocoa and coffee was supported by the EU through BAFS. The Policy Officer said the main aim of the project was to reduce poverty as well as food security and ensure that farmers get their benefit in their produce.
He emphasized that the project main goal was to ensure that the country national GDP increase in the agriculture sector.
The draft validation of the policy document will lead to a national validation today Friday 31st May, 2019.