SIERRA LEONE – Members of parliament of the republic of Sierra Leone have approved the US$10 million agro-business financing agreement between the government and the International Development Association, reports Concord.

The investment aimed at improving the agro-business sector, will focus on promotion of an enabling environment and reduce the burden and constraints faced by agro-business through the Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs).

In the implementation of the programme, key issues will be put in consideration that is, environmental impact and development of an agro-processing retention program in the country.

According to Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr. Patricia Lavaley, Standard Bureau will help to improve standards of goods in the agro-business, while the Ministry of Trade will oversee coordination and proper setting up of agro-business.

A portion of the finances to the tune of US$6 million would be meat to increase productivity, strengthen value-chain and enhance agro-business innovations.

She said that the project would enhance job creation and income generation, provide technical advancement to SMEs and increase new investment in the market sector.

During the debate, it was noted that it has been difficult for SMEs to be given loans at local commercial banks thus the loan was critical in funding such projects.

“We hope that the beneficiaries must be Sierra Leoneans.

We don’t want to see expert been brought into this country to train people when we have qualified people to train locals.

When trainings are done, make sure their jobs are retained,” said leader of the main opposition All People’s Congress, Hon. Chernor R. M. Bah.

Under the Smallholder Commercialization Programme, FAO supported the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program to implement Agricultural Business Centres (ABC) in order to improve food security for the most vulnerable population in Sierra Leone.

The programme permits rural populations to organise themselves into producer organizations and cooperatives and to link with national markets.