SIERRA LEONE – Agriculture Value Chain Development Project (AVDP) in Sierra Leone, financed by the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) has signed a memorandum of Understanding with the country’s second largest university, Njala University to implement a US$191.9m Oil Palm project.
The project will see the nursing of around 540,000 oil palm seedlings in the next three months to be distributed to fifteen palm oil producing districts across the country.
According to the 2019 palm oil value chain analysis in Sierra Leone conducted by the European Commission, the oil is mostly produced at an artisanal scale, where the fruits are mostly pressed by foot stomping.
The other method used is the industrial extraction which is mechanised and according to the report there are currently three main industrial palm oil producers in the country.
The direct value added by the oil to the economy was estimated at US$354 million in 2017 with edible oil contributing 24% and soap taking the remaining large share.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Dr Abdul Karim, members of the Project Management Unit (PMU) of AVDP and officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.
School of Agriculture and Food Science of Njala University had been selected on merits of successfully implementing IFAD funded projects in the past to the satisfaction of the funders, reports Concord.
Acting Vice Chancellor and Principal, Professor Osman Sankoh assured the AVDP Project Management Unit and the Deputy Minister that his staffs at the School of Agriculture have all what it takes to implement the project.
The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Dr Abdu Karim noted that the government was not only keen in improving agriculture for farmers but it is also committed to building the capacity of key institutions like Njala University to enhance national agricultural promotion.
The occasion was climaxed by the signing of the MOU between the Deputy Minister of Agriculture on behalf of AVDP/IFAD and the Acting Vice Chancellor and Principal, Professor Osman Sankoh on behalf of Njala University.