Building the pathway for national development, growth and prosperity, the government of President Ernest Bai Koroma’s agenda for prosperity continue to lay tangible grounds for a people’s led development through many viable agricultural project totaling 12 in all the country.
One such project, the Sierra Leone Oil Palm modeled after the huge success of the Malaysia Palm Oil Project provides the nation and the vast many of its poor folks who are farmers a path out of poverty; a success story that is to be replicated nationwide. Gladly like in Malaysia, it is the President of the Republic as head of the Presidential Task Force on Agriculture (PTFAg) who offers oversight through the Ministry of Agriculture.
Barely five years after the establishment of the Sierra Leone model (pilot) project at the Jong Chiefdom Matru in the Bonthe District, farming folks, land owners, youths and businesses in not just the Chiefdom but the district as a whole have for the first time begun feeling the waves of the national prosperity that is blowing across the country through agricultural growth despites recent health and social challenges.
In just the past three months, over Le250M was injected into a small economy of about 11,000 population, an ever brightening prospect that is poised to see a tangible transformation of lives in the nearest future as is already evident on the ground.
In an unannounced field visit to Jong Chiefdom, locals and indigenes could not be full of more praise for the worth of the project to them.
Fashioned to be an equal opportunity employment facility for the people of Jong Chiedom, over 500 local and indigenes have been enlisted into regular employment facilities. With the strings of kudos streaming from beneficiaries, the Oil Palm Project is more than poised to facilitate life changing projects that the current government imbues in agricultural development.
Certainly, ensuring efficient and sustainable agriculture such as the Palm Oil Plantations provides our poor and farmers and land owners with a means to improve their standard of living.
Land Lease Payment
Lianlian Bintu Lewis, a land owner who also benefits from a scholarship programme offered by the project, expressed an incredible gratitude for the recent land lease paid fee by the project for five years. “We have never been paid for or compensated by any means whatsoever for the utilization of our property; but thanks to this project instituted by the President, we as land owners have begun to see the greater good that is to come for us” she said gaily.
Unbelievable true is the fact that 31 students now benefit from the scholarship programme operated by the project even before reaching the productive stage. Joseph B. Lamin, one of the beneficiaries from the scholarship programme in the HTC category said “we can’t be more grateful for this novelty by the President to take over the oil palm project in the chiefdom; never have we had any such benefit from those few people who operated the farm as we as youths and indigenes been getting ever since government took over” Lamin spoke into the microphone.
The social package offers the building of hospitals, schools and social community hubs for the people of Jong Chiefdom. Kenneth Murana, ward councilor of ward 271 said “I am particularly intrigued by the development and social package the project holds for my people. This will see a complete transformation of the lives of my people and I am here to ensure that I support government to make it a reality”.
Owing to global growth and development trends, the palm oil industry has the potential to generate significant economic and social development for Sierra Leone. The world over, Palm oil is fast emerging as the second most successful agricultural product, after rice paddy, and largest agricultural export. It provides a means of income and economic development to a large number the country’s rural poor. Going by the current rate, palm oil industry is expected to continue its rapid growth in the medium term.
The global market for palm oil has experienced rapid growth in recent decades with current production of palm oil estimated at over 10 trillion tones anually. The agro climatic suitability of Sierra Leone has the potential to make Sierra Leone one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of palm oil, a development feat that will definitely wheel the “engine for socio economic growth” and development as enshrined in the Agenda for Prosperity