In its ardent drive to secure funds and support in the fight against the Ebola outbreak, Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) has secured funds from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) to assist Ebola affected farmers and farm families in Sierra Leone. The initial emergency fund in the region of $390,000 USD has been provided the government of Sierra Leone as part of the Ministry of Agriculture’s continued strides to secure the needed funds for affected farmers in the agricultural sector-the country’s biggest development sector. President of the Republic of Sierra Leone in declaring the State of Public Emergency has however warned farmers and all to desist from eating bats, chimps and other forms of bush meats. Speaking to the AgriNews team, Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay, revealed “the FAO funds is part of the series of supports the Ministry hopes to provide for affected farmers as part of the drive of President Ernest Bai Koroma to have all hands on deck to combat the deadly outbreak”. The funds secured he maintained will go towards providing food aid for the affected farmers whose farming activities have been altered by the Ebola outbreak. He also mentioned that part of the funds secured and any other ones will go towards training of farmers for proactive measures against the outbreak, and a continued sensitization of farm folks in the country; an aspect which the Minister further described as integral. Also he maintained the project also provides for international and local consultants to conduct urgent food security and livelihood assessment of the affected farmers. FAO and Ministry of Agriculture officials have said that the virus could be transmitted by direct contact with the blood and body fluids of infected people as well as infected animals but also maintained that the epidemic is thought to have started when the virus crossed over from infected wildlife into the human population and subsequently began spreading among people. “Curbing human-to-human transmission is the most important focus for government of Sierra Leone and its international partners” the Minister told media men in Freetown. He however, added that the Ministry, FAO and other partners are working closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to raise awareness of the transmission risks from wildlife among rural communities that hunt for bushmeat or meat obtained from the forests. They use the bush meat to supplement their diets and income. These communities risk future spill-over from species that can carry the virus, including fruit bats, chimpanzees and other rodents.

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