Sierra Leone’s president, Julius Maada Bio has declared Agricultural Transformation as a priority for his second term in office, and called on development partners at the ongoing Dakar 2 Summit to support his country’s food and agriculture delivery compact.

He made this revelation in his opening statement at the Sierra Leone Boardroom Session of the Dakar 2 Summit onFeed Africa: Food Sovereignty and Resilience.

President Bio revealed that in the next five years, he would prioritize agricultural transformation for jobs and wealth creation, adding that he saw agribusiness as a key driver of growth for the country and a critical area of focus for investment.

He assured all present that, “Our Food and Agriculture Delivery Compact…is a US$649 million initiative to improve agricultural productivity for food security in Sierra Leone. We will invest heavily in climate-smart agriculture mechanization and technologies and promote private sector involvement throughout the agriculture value chains.”

President Bio added that, “To ensure the delivery of this Compact in the most efficient and accountable manner, my government will establish a Presidential Taskforce on Agriculture Development that I will Chair to provide strategic leadership for its successful implementation.”

Speaking on his government’s objectives, he emphasized that, his government’s dual objectives would be to substitute imported food for food grown locally and to eventually export processed agricultural commodities, adding that that way it would create jobs for citizens, especially youth and women, in rural areas, essentially improving the quality of lives of citizens.

Bio stressed that, they seek strategic partnerships, including the private sector, development partners, regional and international research institutions, and donor agencies, to develop the key agricultural production, processing, and marketing infrastructure sub-sectors in the country respectively.

He said that, with the right financial partners and technical expertise, they can accelerate investments in food production and food production technologies; critical infrastructure for storage, processing, markets, and logistics/transport; and re-orientate the policy reforms to target climate-resilient agricultural development and value chains among others.

“Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Sierra Leone’s strategy for the future is to think about agriculture differently. Our vision is to take advantage of our soil wealth, grow agriculture as a business in climate-smart ways, and leverage it as a fundamental source of national prosperity. This will inspire citizens, especially the youth, to see agriculture as a profitable and sustainable business,” President Bio concluded.