In an exclusive tour to certify the level of success in crop yields for the Rapid Ebola Seed Distribution Project (RESDP to farmers during the Ebola outbreak, the Minister of Agriculture Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay has toured the South and Eastern Regions of the country to ensure that the gains for which the project was undertaken in May 2015 were attained.
Dr. Sam Sesay and team together with independent media men after the tour found out among other things that the high quality-short duration rice supplied to farmers to curb prospects of food shortage did extremely well, resulting to an unprecedented bumper harvest ever recorded in the country.
After visiting scores of farm sites and processing centres in Bo, Pujeuhun, Kenema and Kailahun and Kono, the Minister noted that “the government has been able to dispel dangers that came with news of potential food shortage” as the harvest was much so huge that farmers are now calling on government to help them with labour for harvesting.
According to Dr. Sesay, through the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme Sierra Leone (WAAPP-SL), the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security in collaboration with the National Ebola Response Center (NERC), on May 11 2015 launched the Rapid Emergency Seed Project for farmers in Sierra Leone.
The over US$3 million project was funded by the World Bank and coordinated at the regional level by the Bank, ECOWAS and the West and Central Africa Center for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD); implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture through WAAPP-SL.
Looking back at the need that occasioned the project, Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay said the Ebola viral disease affected all sectors but that agriculture, which employs over 65% of labour in the country is the heaviest hit.
He said the livelihoods of a lot of people employed within the agriculture sector were seriously altered as farmers all over the country had to grapple with the realisation that they had to face harsh realities due to the unavailability of “direly needed seeds for the next planting season”.
The government through its development partners he said could not have done anything better to salvage the then Ebola ravaged agricultural sector catering to the needs of over two thirds of the Sierra Leone citizenry.
Giving a review in a media interview in Freetown on the Rapid Ebola Seed Distribution Project (RESDP), Project Coordinator of WAAPP-SL, Sulaiman Sesay, said the scheme delivered some 2,038 metric tons of seed, 2,000 of which is lowland and 38 upland rice.
He said 165 tons of foundation seed rice was also be provided – all intended to help mitigate the prospects of hunger elicited by the Ebola outbreak.