Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) Dr, Joseph Sam Sesay in an apt
description of the present challenges facing the Agricultural sector in the wake of the Ebola outbreak has said, “the contagion as it now is two-fold: its growing spread and loss of lives among our poor faming folks and the spread virulent fear of the disease” that brought faming activities to a standstill when it all started.
In a reverse and brave call, campaigns by the Ministry of Agriculture and development partners have been focused taking the necessary precautions to break the chain of transmission and at the same time expunging the fear factor that has forced farmers to leave their fields in the wake of looming food crisis.
Farmers across the country are now braving the fears whilst taking all the precautions to ensure that they carry out their farming activities amidst news of the looming food shortage caused by the Ebola outbreak.
Experimental and Research base farmer in the Ebola epicenter of Kenema district Lansana K Abdulai working with the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAP-SLARI) farming projects in the district told AgriNews “whilst we are fully aware of the dangers of the Ebola outbreak, we are also aware that the outbreak will get worse if we allow our country to be plunged into an acute food crisis.”
District Agricultural Officer of Kenema District … Jalloh acknowledged that the district is one of the hardest hit as farming activities according to him were largely disrupted but that ever since the Minister of Agriculture Dr. Sam Sesay took the lead to break the fear chain and taking necessary precaution to continue farming, farmers have begun returning to their fields in an attempt by the Ministry to stoutly intervene in the ominous food crisis.
Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay who for the past seven years of appointment as Minister of Agriculture leads in the government fight against food insecurity notes that “nutrition is part of the health of our nation, we cannot afford to face acute food crisis in the midst of this deadly Ebola outbreak”.
Women who are producers of 60% of food eaten in the country are also taking the lead in the two worse affected districts of Kenema and Kailahun as well as in the Kambia, Bombali and other districts.
Sally Magona, a rice farmer at Lambayama in Kenema told a visiting AgriNews team “even though we are aware of the dangers the virus poses, we have been also educated to know that with the necessary precautions, we can still farm and feed our families”. Sally and scores of other female farmers working at the rehabilitated Inland Valley Swamp at Lambayama in the Kenema District say they have lived all their lives on farming, “we feed our homes, send our children to school (Universities) from the proceeds we get from this farm; stopping now can be disastrous” she maintained.
As part of the Ministry of Agriculture Response programmme to the Ebola outbreak, farmers countrywide are sensitized in preventive precautions against the spread of Ebola and are the same time persuaded to return to their farm-holds and farm in a bid to mitigate the scary food crisis that is brought about by the Ebola outbreak