In fact, I have started harvesting about two to three hundred acres. It is a private company and I have not been supported yet by government, although it is not too late. I did not break away from sorghum. I am still one hundred percent in sorghum. I have been in sorghum for the past fifteen years and we are all over the country; I have my farmers all over the country and we are doing very well although we have some hiccups but that does not mean we are not active,” he informed AYV.
He went on to state that when he got the clarion call from HE the President Julius Maada Bio for food security drive; he delved straight into it. “They know the role I have played for sorghum farmers in this country and so I took the challenge. I am telling people to do farming and to become farmers so I think I have to set the pace. It’s from that backdrop that I actually went into this large scale mechanized farming wherein I am where I am now. My farm is fully mechanized and I have employed permanent staff in the farm which is about twenty people working permanently apart from the office. So, I have created employment for these people and even in the other sector I am creating employment along the value chain,” he added.
He said: “My own focus as far as my farm is concerned is to produce seeds. Production for seeds is different from production for grains. I want to be specialized in the production of certified seeds so that farmers can access good, viable seeds so that they can use it as planting materials. Because the problem we have in this country is that by the time a farmer plays with seeds within one or two years that seed is no longer good for planting; there would be a lot of mess-up with the seeds because of the handling, processing and so forth. So I really want to concentrate on seed processing aspect wherein I produce certified seeds so that these seeds can be given to farmers for ongoing planting. Like this year 2019, we saw how much government spent on the importation of seed rice to this country to give to farmers; but if part of that money is given to some of us as seed companies, the better it would be.”
He added: “As I am speaking to you, I have invested well over eight to nine hundred million Leones into this particular venture. The future is in our hands because with the government’s support; and with everyone’s support the future will be very encouraging. But without the cooperation from the government and from the other key players, I think it will not be easy for me because when we talk especially about mechanization in agro-business in this country it is not easy; it is difficult for us farmers to access finance, it is difficult for us to access machinery like the two tractors I have. The Soninica costs over forty five thousand US Dollars, and the Mercy Fergusson which is 110 horsepower that I am using costs over eighty five thousand US Dollars. So when you put all of this together it is a huge amount of money we are talking about. If we want to succeed in agro-business especially in the production aspect, it needs huge capital investment and until we have an enabling environment that will really help us to invest more into this area in terms of subsidies, at the end of the day, agriculture will be difficult for the citizens of this country.”
“My message to the farmers is simple. I have been in this game for several years now and people know me as the Father of Sorghum and today I have started the pace for rice. It is not difficult. Nothing is difficult. All I am saying is with determination; you can do all that is possible. People say the sky is the limit. The sky is not the limit; you can go beyond the sky. I think with this venture; others can emulate. There are people that have capital but they do not want to invest and so I am encouraging them to come onboard. The government too is encouraged to do more in supporting private farmers to grow what we eat.