Sierra Leone - The resilience needed in attaining food self-sufficiency
By Sheku Putka Kamara
Foundation for Development is an indigenous local non-governmental and non-profit making organization that is headed by Tholoma Sumah. Sumah is a young media personality that is still furnishing his media and communications urge and today, I have the need to talk a bit about his ‘big dream’ of helping Sierra Leone to become food self-sufficient. You do not get to read about this every other day, but matters of this nature need absolute prominence because we need not hide the reality that there is poverty and hunger in this our beloved country. It happens to most people and surely, survival is one hard reality in this place. Like the saying goes, those who feel it, know it. Matters of this nature continue to question our resilience as a people and as a country, but like we always say; let us begin to do what needs to be done for the betterment of mama salone.
Tholoma is on record to have said that agriculture has the potential to solve an increasing percentage of Africa’s problems. I feel he has some huge points there. We currently live in times where all that matters to a good number of persons is to get some daily bread. These people make the greater percentage of the world’s population. The hustling is tough and rough and so with food on the table, a whole lot of issues may be addressed. The organization of Sumah has a mission of realizing that Sierra Leone becomes self-sufficient and independent. With that in mind, the organization adopted farming as one of its main areas of intervention. Such was in line with the organization’s goals which include the eradication of hunger, poverty, joblessness and the dependence of Sierra Leone on other nations.
It is true that such a mission is heavy, but Sumah’s team has proven that nothing is impossible. They could now boast of assisting the establishment of over thirty (30) hectares of cassava farms in Mapang Village, Lokomasama Chiefdom, Port Loko District. Other vegetable farms have also been established. Foundation for Development supported both projects with seeds, fertilizers, food for work, tools and finance so as to aid in making the processes achievable. That’s some laudable initiative and Tholoma did tell me that he has an intention of doing same and even more in other parts of Sierra Leone (bear in mind that they are doing same in a few other districts), until things get national and international. I applaud this innovative drive.
Such projects need to be taken into consideration. Government, through the Agriculture Ministry must be sending a special eye in matters of such nature.
As we speak, Tholoma says the cassava is now ready for production. You need to see those huge tubers, but the organization lacks machinery to process the products. On such a note, I am not too sure that Tholoma and team are asking for too much. The least government and or private and NGOs may wish to do is to support such fantastic ventures. If you are a ‘garri’ lover and eater like me, you will know that cassava means serious business. If you find pleasure in going for the raw product like I do, you’d know that the product is valuable. I hardly do the cooked side of things, but the very many uses of cassava are but a demystified rationalization. This brings to mind what happened the other day at some street in Freetown.
A certain man wanted to buy some locally grown products. He was told that the yam and cocoa cost Five Thousand Leones each (5,000). The man was like; why was such the case when all of these stuffs are home grown? He even attempted to compare the rice that is sold for the same price (getting three cups depending on the type that you intend to buy). All of these stuffs continue to remind us why we need to prioritize our local products. If we get them in abundance, we may spend less. Imagine, we used to get some very cool plantains for Five to Ten Thousand Leones. Now, you need Twenty Thousand Leones and over to be on some safer side. These developments are worrisome.
A 25kg bag of rice now costs between A hundred and thirty to a hundred and fifty and even two hundred thousand Leones (depending on what you go for). Today, we get a 50kg bag of rice between two hundred and sixty to three hundred and twenty or thirty or even four hundred thousand Leones.
All of these happenings are telling us that we have to do more. We have to step up. There are things we can do to help our people. Like Tholoma, there are hundreds of other Sierra Leoneans that are putting in so much effort into agriculture, but they lack very many equipment. Government should open some of its branches to some of these indigenous firms. We need this and many other things for the betterment of this place. Food is vital. Agriculture is necessary. So, let us embrace young organizations like Foundation for Development to fix some of Sierra Leone’s agricultural challenges.