Investigations mounted by this medium indicate that quite a considerable number of youths across the country have abandoned the farms for ‘Okada’ (motorcycle riding).
Most of the youths interviewed in Bombali District revealed that they were engaged in agriculture previously to earn their livelihood. They disclosed that, the income generated from agriculture was not enough to take care of themselves and their immediate families which is why they took on motorcycle ‘Okada’ riding as an alternative source of livelihood.
“I purchased motorcycle ‘Okada’ out of the money generated from agriculture,” Mohamed Turay said, adding that the income generated from ‘Okada’ riding is in the pace of electric train compared to the snail pace of agriculture.
Jacob Moba, an ‘Okada’ rider in Bo City also expressed similar opinion, pointing out that the income generated from motorcycle ‘Okada’ accrues on a daily basis.
He made it clear that the income made out of agriculture is slow and unpredictable. John Moba argued that his mother and father appreciate the role he is now playing in the house unlike those olden and frustrated days in the farm.
The situation in Kenema, Kono, Kambia, Port Loko, Karena, Koinadugu and Falaba Districts to name a few, is not dissimilar. A good number of the farms visited have been left to fallow while others are e being cultivated by children, old women and men on subsistence basis.
The cost of agricultural produce in Sierra Leone is soaring on a daily basis. Rice, which is the staple food of Sierra Leone, is being imported thus costing the government whooping amounts of money annually. The recent report on hunger placed Sierra Leone second top of the ladder though those at the helm of affairs are shifting the blame squarely on the COVID-19 pandemic and of late, the raging Russia-Ukraine war.
The world’s population trajectory is a cause for concern especially so when the targeted populations for every city come 2030 is estimated at one million. There is a lacuna in the agricultural sector and it should be addressed instantaneusly by the community members, leaders,
Community Based Organisations (CBOs), Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and the local government authority. I am with the avid conviction that priority should be given to agriculture so that the young and energetic youths who till the soil will have passion for their work to enhance sustainable sources of livelihood. In fact, agro-business should be the nerve centre for the promotion of agriculture in Sierra Leone considering the vast Inland Value Swamps (IVS) and fertile Land we had. So what is the essence of our vast and fertile lands when we rely heavily on importation? This question may sound rhetorical but in essence, it has a bearing towards the predicament we are facing today as a nation. Even though poverty is multi-dimensional, in essence, food poverty plays a pivotal role in the lives of the ordinary people most of whom cannot boast of a breakfast on a daily basis let alone their three square meals a day. The calorie of food required by the body on a regular basis is another thorny issue that is yet to be addressed. Despite all what has been said, agriculture plays a pivotal role for the food, health, education, shelter and even places of work.
Therefore, it is incumbent on the Government, Community Based Organizations (CBOs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Development Partners to add value on the farms so that the youths will embrace agriculture in its entirety.