The Regional Rice Value Chain Project (RRVCP) in the Ministry of Agriculture (MoF) has signed a contract with a consulting firm to render consulting services for the design and supervision of irrigation infrastructure for 4000 Ha (four thousand hectares) of farm land in the project site of Torma Bum, Bonth district.

Giving an overview about the project, the Project Coordinator of the Regional Rice Value Chain Project (RRVCP) – Abdulai Bun Wai said the project is divided into two parts; the infrastructure development aspect and the farm production aspect. Noting that for them as technical people, they believe that the infrastructure development is the most important aspect of the project in transforming the rice sector in line with the National Agricultural transformation plan.

“ The infrastructure consists of 4,000 Ha. (Four thousand hectares) of land to be irrigated, 2 (two) warehouses to be rehabilitated, 1 (one) new ware house to be constructed with a drying floor, 4 four integrated rice mills, 100KVa Diesel generators ,prefabricated housing units’, and rural market infrastructure. The farm production aspect is considered to be the easiest part of this project arrangement,” opined Abdulai Bun Wai.

He disclosed that the project is jointly funded by Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) with 60%, BADEA with 35%, and the Government of Sierra Leone with 5%, noting that the project has been struggling a little bit because the said BADEA financing agreement is yet to be actualized.

He added that, he is very happy that the long awaited and the most important aspect of the project would be done in a couple of minutes.

The signing, he said , is the biggest aspect of the project and carries about 55% of the total project cost.

According to the keynote speaker who doubles as the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Ambassador Abu Bakar Karim noted that the irrigation infrastructural development and mechanization is of a priority for the ministry to enhancing production and productivity, since RRVCP aims at increasing rice production and productivity in the county and reduce its dependence on imported rice.

Amb. Karim noted that rice is a political commodity, noting that agriculture is contributing 61% to the country’s economy, and the Ministry over the years have put some lowlands under the mechanization priority as part of their efforts to produce sufficient rice in a sustainable way and reduce the country’s over- reliance on imported rice as it consumes about 1.5 million tons of rice yearly.

The General Manager of the Spectrum Engineering Consultants/DTI, Ahmed M. Mneimneh explained the different stages involved in the design and supervision of the irrigation infrastructure and how they intend executing their lined-up activities. He said, their firm will go through to see that the physical work of this project kicks off as soon as possible.

“Our company will evaluate the location of the project to get first hand data and our work will include the design and supervision of irrigation infrastructure for 4000 Ha of land, that will enhance effective water distribution to farm fields and other facilities, ” he noted.

The signing activity was climaxed with the consultant’s visits to the project location in Torma Bum, in which they were accompanied by the project coordinator- Abdulai Bun Wai, the project Engineer- Alhaji Mohamed Sesay and other technical staff from the project.