Friday, December 13, 2013

CGIAR restates pledge to support Sierra Leone to develop agriculture

Sierra Leone has received a high-level commitment from CGIAR that the global network of international agricultural research will support the country’s agricultural reform program.
The pledge to support Sierra Leone came after a 3-day consultative dialog that sought to set the vision for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation in promoting agriculture, fisheries, and industrial development.

Dr Marco Wopereis of AfricaRice Center, who represented Dr Frank Rijsberman, the Chief Executive Officer of the Consortium, said, “CGIAR is also ready to assist Sierra Leonean research institutes in developing 10-year research strategies and 5-year rolling implementation plans to ensure highly relevant research, while building a strong science capacity in Sierra Leone and mobilizing global knowledge in these areas.”

 CGIAR centers present at the dialog which ended in the capital Freetown on 13 November included the World Agroforestry Center, IITA, AfricaRice, and CIAT. Others to be brought on board are ILRI and WorldFish.

The plan is to assist Sierra Leone in putting into practice the development strategies for key commodities, in particular rice, cassava, forestry products, livestock, and aquaculture.

Over 200 participants, including cabinet ministers, heads of MDAs, development partners, members of parliament, private sector players, farmers’ organizations, and civil society activists, participated in the dialog.

Dr Kenton Dashiell, IITA Deputy Director General (Partnerships and Capacity Development) and Braima James, IITA Country Coordinator for Sierra Leone, represented IITA at the consultative dialog.

The mandate of the dialog, according to President Koroma in his closing address, was to set out a 5-year integrated and comprehensive program and action plan for promoting agriculture, fisheries, and industry in Sierra Leone.

He told the participants, “I am reliably informed that all participants have demonstrated great commitment to achieving this objective, and we now have a rough draft of what needs to be done. I applaud all of you for your worthy contributions.” The President paid glowing tribute to the cooperation of development partners who participated in the dialog, including World Bank, CGIAR, FARA, and CORAF. “We also applaud the contributions of our compatriots, the special advisers, my Ministers, and the staff of the MDAs. You have all done a great job,” he said.

President Koroma reiterated his Government’s commitment to meeting the objectives of the 3-day landmark conference with regard to all challenges that the workshop was trying to address, adding, “It is only in an ideal world of unlimited resources and capacities that we can do all that needs to be done.”

Professor Monty Jones, Coordinator of the conference, said the consultative dialog discussed various issues to come up with the actions and activities needed to develop the comprehensive and inclusive  5-year program. This will be implemented through collaboration among various arms of Government and Ministries: Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Fisheries and Marine Resources, Trade and Industry, Education, Science and Technology, Health and Sanitation and Youth Affairs.

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