Source: Africa Young Voices
The National Publicity and Outreach Coordinator in the Office of Government Spokesman, Abdulai Bayraytay has commended the Bombali Women Farmers In Action, a coalition of fourteen women's groups, for their commitment to take the lead in farming and agribusiness in the Bombali district.
Bayraytay made the statement while delivering a keynote address as Guest Speaker during the launching ceremony of the Bombali Women Farmers In Action at a recent colourful ceremony held at Rorinka village, few miles to Makeni in the Northern Province.
He said the involvement of the women in agriculture is in line with President Koroma's dream of diversifying the economy of which agriculture remains pivotal. Bayraytay said women play an integral part in agricultural production, as subsistence farmers, cash crop growers, food processors and livestock owners, among other roles
The Government spokesman further maintained that agriculture is key to the development of the country's economy and that women's participation in the revamping of the economy especially at a time when the Ebola Virus Disease has ravaged the economy is further testimony that they, the women, are actualising Pillar 8 in the country's Agenda for Prosperity.
Commenting on the efforts the Government continues to make in creating the conducive climate that favours agriculture, Bayraytay said job creation for young people, including women, is at the heart of the Government's agenda for the post-Ebola economic recovery program of the country. He said Government, through the Ministry of Youth Affairs has just commissioned a youth farm at Masaila by Masiaka, adding that youth empowerment transcends rhetoric and should be action on the ground.
He concluded his statement with a cash donation of Le.3, 000,000 (three million Leones; which is equivalent to six hundred United States dollars) to the Bombali District Women Farmers' in Action, stating that "this modest donation is a demonstration of my commitment to the economic empowerment of women, especially when it comes to agriculture since it is the backbone of the economy," amidst thunderous applause.
Explaining the purpose and overview of the occasion, the Coordinator of the Women Farmers, Muscuda Jalloh who doubles as Bombali District Coordinator for the National Federation of Farmers of Sierra Leone said her organization comprises of women drivers, traders and housewives who are committed to farming and agribusiness from all over Bombali District.
'We are supporting the President's call for everyone to be involved in agriculture and we are taking the lead as women in this direction, " Madam Jalloh reaffirmed.
Coordinator Muscuda Jalloh concluded her statement by highlighting the successes of her organization that now boasts of two rice farms of 90 acres, another 30 acres of groundnut farms at Sella Limba Chiefdom and another 30 acres of which 20 have already been ploughed.
She however appealed to Government and the private sector for the construction of an agricultural business centre for them as well as the provision of vehicles that would ease the transportation problems facing women in their commute from one farm to another, as well as drying floors and storage facilities for their yields. She concluded by thanking Mr. Bayraytay for honouring their invitation and for his philanthropic financial donation of three million leones to her organization.
In his contribution, the Member of Parliament for Constituency 29, Salieu O. Sesay aka SOS reiterated Government's continued support to farmers and called on women to be united so that their dream of contributing to farming would be realised.
"You can always count on my personal support because once you the women succeed, all of us would have succeeded", MP Sesay said.
Other speakers included Pa Alimamy N'Soila III of Bombali Sebora Chiefdom, Makeni Section, Mr. Charles and Madam Humu Hawa Sheriff, a representative of the Permanent Secretary and Gender Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) respectively, and the Northern Region Motor Drivers' Union in Makeni, Alhaji Sass Kamara.
In her statement, the Executive Secretary of the Organization of Women Network of Entrepreneurs (OWNERS), a program managed by AFFORD-S/L, Madam Zainab Tunkara Clarkson expressed delight that women are taking ownership of their destiny, and said women should be supported in their farming activities since it is a sure way for food security and a turn over for the economy.
Madam Zainab Tunkara Clarkson received accolades from the women for providing specialised training to them for business development over the past couple of months.
The ceremony was ably chaired by gender activist Ms. Suard H. Koroma who in her opening remarks stated that the commitment on the part of women to undertake farming is to promote their economic independence, and to the applause of the audience said: "We are just too tired of taking micro credit loans which only continue to make us dependent on others," whilst the chief of Rorinka, Pa Roke Kalokoh delivered the welcome address.
The climax of the occasion was a site visit to one of the 33 acre plots of the farms run by the women a few miles from Rorinka accompanied by dancing and drumming.