The Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Program (WFP) are set for this year’s celebration of World Food Day today at Moyamba Junction.
Speaking during a press conference held yesterday at the conference room of the Ministry of Agriculture – Youyi Building, Chief Agricultural Officer, Amara Idara Sheriff, disclosed that this year the world will be celebrating its 73rd World Food Day.
He this will be happening in commemoration with the founding of FAO in 1945 and 44th year existence in Sierra Leone, adding that for some time now the country has not been celebrating the Day on time due to many factors.
A representative from WFP, Yasuhiro Tsumura, said for a long time the organization has been with the people and government of Sierra Leone to provide food during the time of peace, war, Ebola and natural disasters.
He noted that the country is now facing a turning point after one disaster and another, while assuring that they are proud to accompany Sierra Leone to eradicate hunger as the organization has shift from direct assistance to capacity building.
He disclosed that among their interventions are the support to national and social protection, education, gender empowerment, school feeding and commerce.
He said WFP is also supporting the national inclusive process initiated by the Ministry of Agriculture to find a roadmap to fight hunger.
Deputy Country Director of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Nyabengi Tito Tipo, said the theme of this year’s celebrations of “Zero Hunger” requires the collective action of all the stakeholders including government.
She disclosed that the celebrations also coincided with FAO 40th anniversary in Sierra Leone that is geared towards celebrating their partnership with government.
She noted that this government has shown strong commitment with the New Direction pinpointing that agriculture should focus in the private sector.
She also dilated on their 3 year priority areas ending 2019 that includes diversification of livelihood, natural resources management and policy formulation support, because according to her the sector cannot thrive without such supports.
She concluded by commending the Minister of Agriculture, Joseph Ndanema for always consulting with them to achieve food self sufficiency, while stating that with the call for action from all stakeholders government; should be the key in achieving zero hunger.
In his remarks, Minister of Agriculture, Joseph Ndanema, said the theme for this year’s celebrations falls within the plans of the New Direction as it has been agreed that by 2030 or even before that the country should have become food self sufficient.
He maintained that it is no secret that President Bio is determined in ensuring that food, especially rice is available and affordable at all times, adding that is why his ministry, partners and private sector have been asked to fulfill that promise.
He also spoke about their 7 strategic plans to ensure that they are on the right path to achieve the promise set in the New Direction and therefore thanked WFP and FAO for their support in drafting the National Agricultural Transformation Program document in line with the vision of government.
The minister further explained that WFP is supporting the school feeding program and also talked about the school garden project they are planning to start.
He noted that to achieve zero hunger is not easy, adding that that is why they are planning to move from subsistence farming to agro business development by attracting more women and youth into agriculture.
He seized the opportunity to ask partners for technical support for the transfer of knowledge, while nothing that the production sector is still rudimentary, stressing the need for all of them to work together to earnest production.
The minister maintained that seeds and planting materials are sub standards, adding that ending hunger also has to do with nutrition and livestock because according to WFP report, Sierra Leone is ranked as the Third Hungriest Country in the World with malnutrition at 37.3%.