The Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa and the World Bank Country Director, Dr. Gayle Martin yesterday signed a USD 10 Million financing agreement to support Sierra Leone’s Agro Processing Competitiveness Project.
The project’s main objective is to improve business environment in the agribusiness sector and increase productivity of targeted agro-processing firms in Sierra Leone.
The PDFS, Mr. Mathew Dingie chaired the ceremony and was attended by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Peter Bayuku Konteh, the Chief Economist, Mr. Alimamy Bangura and a host of agency executives.
The project, according to Minister Saffa is comprised of three components including:
- The promotion of an enabling environment to nurture agro-processing sector Competitiveness and growth of agribusiness firms (USD 2Million).
- Firm-level support to increase productivity and competitiveness of agro-processing firms and small and medium scale Enterprises (SMEs) in selected value chains (USD 6Million)
- Support project implementation, coordination, monitoring and evaluation (USD 2Million)
This intervention, the Minister maintains, will support job creation and growth income opportunities, particularly the bottom 40% in the targeted value and agribusiness sector.
He posited that the project will provide finance and technical assistance to firms, to support the acquisition of technology, the transfer of knowledge and development of critical skills to facilitate innovation and increase productivity.
According to the Minister, the project will further support regulatory reforms, investment, retention and institutional capabilities with the objective to expand market opportunities, support existing agribusiness investment and attract sector investment in the agribusiness sector.
He assured that the project activities will contribute to the strategic objective articulated in “The New Direction” manifesto which prioritizes the agriculture, forestry, fisheries and marine resources and tourism sectors as they are considered vehicles for promoting economic growth.
He further assured that the overall day-to-day coordination and management of the project will be carried out by “a dedicated Project Coordination Unit (PCU) which will be established under the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The primary responsibility of the PCU, the Minister pointed out, will be to implement the non fiduciary aspects while the Public Fiduciary Management Unit (PFMU) will be responsible for all fiduciary functions of the project. The PCU, he stated, will work closely with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau, the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) and development partners during the project implementation.
He expressed gratitude to the World Bank and all its international partners for their continuing support and appealed on behalf of government, to the general public to cooperate with all the relevant authorities and stakeholders in improving the quality of agribusiness in the country.