In His comments, Mr. Casely Ato Coleman Country Director of Plan International Sierra Leone, said the purpose of the visit was to review progress as well as challenges of the farm; as well as a joint effort between Plan International and MOYA to mobilize resources for the project to bring it to scale across the country in line with the initiative of the Government of Sierra Leone to support Youth Engagement and Youth Employment.
Mr. Coleman said Plan International saw the project as a very innovative post Ebola project to help rebuild community resilience. He noted that the project was sited in Port Loko District which is one of Plan International’s sponsorship program areas and said the outcome of the project will benefit the children, women and young people of the district.
Mr. Coleman said Plan International will continue to support MOYA to engage new partners to invest in the project.
The Youth Farm Manager Mr. Mustapha Swaray highlighted the key achievements and challenges on the farm in the last two (2) years. The farm covers an area of 250 Acres with 150 Acres already prepared for cultivation. Within the farm are greenhouses constructed for vegetable cultivation. Other crops already cultivated in planned plots on the farm includes banana, plantain, pineapple, cassava, coconut and pawpaw plantations. He also noted that the farm cultivation includes about 6.3 Acres of Inland Valley Swamps with Nerica Rice (improved variety). The Youth Farm presently has 195 young people workers who are currently on stipends supported by partner organizations.
The Farm Manager thanked Plan International for particularly supporting the provision of bore holes and water tanks to service the entire farm, as well as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and base line studies for the project. He said Plan International had provided institutional support, assorted agricultural tools, E-mapping and documentary development and also conducted gender training.
He said the farm is however faced with challenges including, financial constraints, technical skills training, and infrastructure including drying floors, store houses and equipment including tractors and processing machines for value additions to farm produce. Other challenges include acquisition of improved crop varieties and crop virus infestation.
The Ghana High Commissioner to Sierra Leone Major General (rtd) Carl Modey in his statement express his delight on behalf of the government of Ghana to be a part of the initiative. He said the Government of Ghana will provide technical support, improved seed varieties and help set up a demonstration farm.
He said this project will further strengthen the relationship between Ghana and Sierra Leone.
His Excellency Mr. Peter Versteg – Head of EU Delegation in Sierra Leonewas impressed onhis first visit to the youth farm. Agriculture he said is the foundation for economic development. He said he is looking forward to proposals to support the project, particularly on livestock.