Linking Farmers to Markets (LFM) Project in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security has on Wednesday 7th, June 2017, updated the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Works, Housing and Infrastructure in Parliament on the status of feeder Roads Implementation in the country.
The Chairman of the Works Committee in Parliament, Hon. Kombo Kamara in his opening remarks said, contracts are mostly awarded to contractors by friendship and that is why no proper documentation where done in terms of monitoring their activities during the implementations of these feeder roads projects. “This is the taxpayers’ money and it should be accounted for as we are representing them in parliament,”Hon. Kombo stated.
He informed that they are not going to witch-hunt any Ministries Department and Agencies (MDAs) but to monitor them and know how their allocation were used so that they will be in the better position to educate and inform their constituents on these activities across the country.
The representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture before doing their presentation were put on oath and they were informed by the chairman that if they lie before the committee, that can be taken against them as contempt of parliament and they can be taken to court for that.
In his presentation, the Project Manager LFM, Foday S. Kanu said the project is jointly funded by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Government of Sierra Leone and the Project is implemented in five districts that in Bombali, Tonkolili, Bo and Western Area of Sierra Leone and is being implemented over four years period starting the first disbursement date of August 2014 to September 2018.
He added that the project has four main components and component one is value addition and diversification, two is small scale irrigation development; three is feeder roads development and component four is management, coordination and consultancy services.
He said each of these components has its own specific objectives and strategies and the overall objective is to increase smallholder’s income and reduce household food insecurity by improving farmers’ production and marketing capacity.
He added that these specific objectives will be achieved through building smallholders’ production and marketing capacity; construction and establishment of Agri-Business Centers (ABCs); development of new agricultural land and small-scale irrigation facilities and rehabilitating feeder roads for better access to markets.
He said capacity building and training for Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security frontline extension agents and provision of labor-saving and post-harvesting technologies and agricultural inputs (seeds and fertilizers for farmers in these five districts in the country).
He disclosed that 6.3 million USD out of the 22.8 million USD has been disbursed representing 31% of the total budget.
He said that of this total disbursement, an estimated 2.0 million USD was disbursed for the rehabilitation of feeder roads and these funds were directly paid to the contractors’ accounts from IDB.
He said the achievement s on outputs is that the signing of the contracts for the rehabilitation of 394KM out of the 600KM of feeder roads took place in May 2016 coincided with the on-set of the rainy season, therefore the actual physical rehabilitation work did not commence as was planned but started in October 2016.
He informed that the LFM project is one of the rural development projects that is geared towards improving the livelihood of the communities and owned by them.He said that the project is complimenting the efforts of the government in its implementation.