Sierra Leone’s Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Dr. Henry Musa Kpaka has said that the ambitious ‘Feed Salone’ program launched by Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio will transform food systems, create jobs for women and youth and spur economic growth in the West-African nation.

Dr. Kpaka made this statement while speaking at the formal launch of the ‘Alliance of Champions for Food System Transformation,’ which is Co-chaired by Sierra Leone, Norway, and Brazil. He described the bloc as a group of ambitious countries determined to act urgently to close the ambition and implementation gaps in food systems to speed up international progress.

“The situation in Sierra Leone is unsustainable. Since the war in Ukraine began last year, we have seen unprecedented levels of disruption across food, energy, and fertilizer markets. Our food import bill has gone up by 40%, and food price inflation of over 50% has driven higher levels of food insecurity. Weather changes are making the lives of everyone in Sierra Leone more difficult,” he said.

To address difficulties posed by food insecurity in the country, he said, President Bio has launched the ambitious Feed Salone program, with five strategic objectives to achieve food security, increase exports, create jobs, especially for women and youth, alleviate hunger and malnutrition, and build a resilient food system. He said Sierra Leone would achieve those objectives through strategic initiatives ranging from mechanization and irrigation to enhancing access to climate-resilient seeds and inputs.

“We aim to transform our agricultural landscape, improving aggregation, processing, and market linkages, and harnessing the power of climate-smart agriculture and AgTech. Crucial to this transformation is ensuring better access to finance and, vitally, empowering women and youth, who are the backbone of our agricultural workforce,” he said.

On her part, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, Her Excellency Mariam Bint Almheiri said that the COP28 had provided a historic moment for the food systems because they had been able to get the political will and mobilize financing with $3.1 billion going into the food systems. She also disclosed that the signatories of the UAE Declaration on Food Systems, Agriculture, and Climate had risen to 152 countries.