On Friday, August 11, 2022, a notable achievement was reached as the Ministry of Agriculture, in partnership with the Africa Institute for Development Equity (AIDE) Sierra Leone, certified farmers during an event held at the New Brook Fields Hotel in Freetown under the Smallholder Commercialisation and Agribusiness Development Project (SCADeP).

The certification follows the completion of an intensive six-month training program conducted by AIDE Sierra Leone, commencing in November 2022. The training encompassed business development support and entrepreneurial capacity building, focusing on the value chain of key agricultural sectors including rice, oil palm, cocoa, poultry/maize, and onion.

Providing insight into the training’s background, Mr. Sulaiman Sesay, the Project Coordinator of SCADeP, explained that SCADeP is a government initiative under the Ministry of Agriculture, funded by the World Bank and the Sierra Leonean government. Its primary aim is to uplift smallholder farmers and transform the agricultural landscape.

Sesay highlighted the project’s mandate to promote smallholder commercialisation through productive business linkages between farmers and agribusinesses. “We are proud to announce that we have partnered with 17 agribusiness companies, impacting nearly 60,000 smallholder farmers. This collaboration has facilitated improved inputs, technical assistance, enhanced productivity, and market access for their produce,” Sesay affirmed.

Moreover, SCADeP collaborated with 89 producer organizations and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to address post-harvest challenges. These entities received support in the form of processing equipment, enabling them to add value to their produce. Sesay acknowledged the significant results achieved through these efforts.

He encouraged the certified farmers to apply the knowledge gained during the training and expressed gratitude to AIDE for their comprehensive contribution.

Mohamed Sesay, the Executive Director of AIDE Sierra Leone, acknowledged the remarkable journey of collaboration with 76 agribusiness farms, consisting of both large and small-scale enterprises. He commended the 75 farms recognized for their exceptional commitment, participation, and performance during the training.

Dr. Adetunji Oredipeh, the World Bank Senior Agriculture Economist, emphasized the responsibility now resting on the farmers to contribute their best to Sierra Leone’s development. He hailed the project as a testament to value for money and timely intervention.

Representing the Ministry of Agriculture, Aiah Thorlie, the Acting Deputy Chief Agricultural Officer, reaffirmed the ministry’s dedication to fostering an enabling environment for agricultural growth, citing agriculture as the country’s cornerstone.

Madam Sinkarie Sesay of Mangara Agri delivered a keynote address, inspiring the farmers to elevate their endeavors. She underscored the importance of perseverance, continuous learning, passion, and networking as essential attributes for success.

In her remarks, farmer Alima Yata Samai expressed gratitude to SCADeP and AIDE for the invaluable opportunity. “We are committed to applying the knowledge gained to the best of our abilities,” Samai concluded.

The comprehensive training covered business planning, adherence to legal standards, agricultural marketing, access to finance, and other critical topics. The ceremony culminated with the presentation of certificates to the accomplished trainees.