By Mohamed Fofonah
The Ministry of Agriculture yesterday signed a contract with the consulting services for the design and supervision of the irrigation infrastructure of four thousand hectares for the Regional Rice Value Chain Project (RRVCP) in Torma Bum.
The irrigation development and mechanization are a priority for the Ministry to enhance high agriculture productivity as the proposed Regional Rice Value Chain Project is expected to increase production in the country and reduce its dependence on imported rice, according to the Minister of Agriculture, Abu Bakarr Karim.
With agriculture contributing 61 percent to the country’s economy, Mr Karim said they have put some lowlands under the mechanization priority as part of efforts to implement the right type of infrastructure to produce sufficient and sustained rice and reduce the country’s over-reliance on imported food products as it consumes about 1.5 million tonnes of rice per annum.
He said the development of a robust major irrigation scheme in Torma Bum will increase food production by promoting an all-year-round production of rice in the country.
The project is jointly funded by the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) with 60 percent, BADEA with 35 percent, and the Government of Sierra Leone with 5%, the Project Coordinator, Abdulai Bun Wai explained at a news conference at the Ministry in Freetown. But he said the BADEA financing has not yet been actualized.
Mr Wai said the infrastructure development takes about 55% of the entire project with the construction of four thousand hectares of irrigation, three warehouses, and marketing for the Torma Bum area.
The General Manager of the Spectrum Engineering Consultants/DTI, Ahmed M. Mneimneh said his company will evaluate the location of the project including the construction of the 25-kilometer road to enhance the entrance to the project area.
He said their work will include the construction of the four thousand hectares of irrigation to enhance the effective distribution of water, and warehouses, and also involves the future extension of the project.