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June 19, 2011

Sierra Leone to assist small scale farmers increase production

by Silas Gbandia

Sierra Leone will spend $403 million over the next five years to help small-scale farmers boost crop production, said Sam Sesay, the West African nation’s minister of agriculture, forestry and food security. He said the country is also trying to attract large agricultural projects.

Sierra Leone is turning to agriculture to help rebuild its economy after an 11 year-long civil war that ended in 2002. Farmers are being encouraged to plant crops including rice and cassava through the government’s program, which has so far distributed $28 million, Sesay said.

“The combined approach of supporting small-holder farmers with support from donor partners and encouraging large scale investment in agriculture will promote economic growth,” he said.

The World Bank gave two agriculture grants worth $42 million to Sierra Leone, the Washington-based lender said on its website May 29.

Small-scale farmers are using 12 percent of the country’s arable land, leaving room for the larger companies the government hopes to lure, Sesay said.

Geneva-based Addax & Oryx Group Ltd.’s Addax Bioenergy began a 10,000-hectare sugar-cane plantation in Makeni, 137 kilometers (85 miles) east of Freetown, and expects to begin producing ethanol by 2013, the company said on its website.

The government will spend $30.6 million on agriculture in its budget this year, or 8.9 percent of the state’s total spending plans...

full article...Bloomberg

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