Deputy Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr Robert Chakanda Addresses The National Steering Committee ON AVDP
On the 19th December, 2020, at the DoHAS Conference Room in Bo City, Southern Sierra Leone, the National Steering Committee On Agricultural Value Chain Development Project (AVDP) met for their third annual Committee Meeting. As part of the committee's mandate to provide oversight, direct , review and approve the annual work plan and budget of the project, the members met today to execute that task . After an extensive scrutiny of the work plan and budget of the project for the FY2021, the members of the committee present (apparently a quorum) unanimously approved the $14.022 million dollars budget for the FY 2021. Members of the committee present to grace the exercise consisted of : MAF, MoF, MoPED and MTI and other stakeholders of observer status including Director of Decentralization Secretariat, National Youth commission, SLIEPA, Farmers Federation, Environmental Protection Agency, and MAFS Senior Technical team.
The AVDP is a six years ( July 2019- March 2026) Agricultural project administered by the PMU with MAFS as the primary implementing partner. The project has an estimated total budget of $101.226Million for six years. The primary Financer of the project is IFAD with a total contribution to the sum of $52.666 Million in the form of loan (70%) and grant (30%). The government provides counterpart funding of $14.5Million, whilst the rest of the funding source comes from Adaptation Fund, OFID, Tony Blair Institute, the Private sector and beneficiary contribution.
The over all goal of the project is to improve livelihoods, Food security and climate change resilience for rural farming households in the 16 district. The project has regional offices in Bo, Kenema, Port Loko and Makeni with the mandate to coordinate the implementation activities. The primary objective of the project is to increase the incomes of smallholder farmers through the promotion of Agriculture as a business. Additionally, the project targets 43,000 Household Head of a total number of 258,000 people mainly of smallholder producers of rice, cacao, oil Palm, and vegetables, registered farmer Institutions, SMEs dealing in Agricultural inputs and large processors and buyers of oil Palm, rice and cocoa. It has three primary components of: Climate Resilient and Smart Agricultural Production, Agricultural Market Development and project Coordination and Management.
Mr Sam King, the Hon deputy Minister of MAFS who also doubles as Chairman of the committee in the absence of the substantive Minister, in his remarks after an elusive presentation by the Project Manager, Bob Conteh, disclosed that the project design aligns well with policy cluster two of the MTNDP (2019-2020). He reiterated that His Excellency Bragidier General Rtd Julius Maada Bio's vision for increase productivity and commercialisation of Agriculture is the bedrock that informs the project and programs of MAFS. Thus, the design of this project is never a mistake and comes at a time when H.E has declared 2021 as the year of "accelerated delivery". He particularly called on the members to give a no objection to the AWPB for speedy execution.
Dr Robert Chakanda, on behalf of the Hon Minister of MoPED Dr Francis.M. Kai-Kai called on the PMU that moving forward, the project should place more premium on the availability of quality Agricultural inputs as the backbone to increase productivity and catalyst for seed sufficiency for local production. On the technical aspect of the project design, he emphasised that some improvement is needed to capture clear targets, time line, sustainability and exit plans at the completion of the project.
The deputy Finance Minister 2, in responding to the bottlenecks associated with late disbursement of funds for the project, measured that most times the delays lie with alteration in the design at the middle of executing the project. He advised that in the future the PMU should ensure that the necessary due diligence is adequately done before requests are forwarded to MoF for payment.
The Hon Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Peter Bayuku Konteh calls for continues engagements between all stakeholders to ensure that the project meets it intended purpose. He pointed out that one of the core mandates of the MTI is to supervise and regulates the activities of business people, therefore he assured that potential investors in Agric-businesses will be encouraged and provided with incentives to readily invest in Agriculture as a line of business.
Other speakers like Ngolo Katter of the NaYC, farmers rep, EPA etc all registered their strong commitment to supporting the project technically and other wise.
Mr James Momorie
ICT Officer Ministry of planning and economic development