SIERRA LEONE – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Vietnam have collaborated in a South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) agreement aimed at developing the rice sector in Sierra Leone.
With an estimated budget of US$5 million, the tripartite agreement for the new project was signed by His Excellency Abu Bakarr Karim, Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security of Sierra Leone, and by Saeed Abubakar Bancie, FAO Representative in Sierra Leone.
According to partners, the new tripartite project will support diverse actors to increase productivity and production of rice through increased access to improved technologies and upscaling of best practices along the rice value chain and will be implemented through a Unilateral Trust Fund (UTF) from Sierra Leone.
In Sierra Leone, rice is a widely consumed product. The country that targets self-sufficiency in the commodity is increasing international cooperation to improve the level of its production.
Rice cultivation is carried out on an area of over 820,000 hectares, however, local production of milled rice covers around 70% of consumption needs which translates to more than 1.4 million tonnes per year according to USDA data.
As part of this three-way partnership, Vietnam, the world’s 5th largest producer of milled rice and 3rd supplier to the African continent after India and Thailand will provide its expertise in rice-value-chain development to Sierra Leone for four years.
Minister Abu Bakarr Karim commended Vietnam for its commitment to providing technical assistance through FAO South-South Cooperation, emphasizing the invaluable role it will play in Sierra Leone’s agricultural landscape.
According to the FAO statement, skilled experts and technicians specialized in rice production, irrigation, rice breeding, mechanization, and post-harvest management will be deployed to various national sites, including research stations.
Additionally, capacity-building initiatives such as study tours, field training, and training of trainers will be implemented to empower local stakeholders.
This new tripartite agreement is part of FAO’s strong commitment to broaden its partnership base with diverse groups of countries through South-South and Triangular Cooperation and mobilization.
This follows that, since 1996, FAO has been working at central and decentralized levels to promote SSTC amongst its Member States as a means to reduce poverty and hunger, while promoting sustainable agrifood systems.
As a result, FAO said that the countries in the Global South are increasingly recognizing SSTC as one of the most efficient delivery modalities addressing their needs.
With regards to the development of the rice sector in African countries in particular, FAO has supported, through SSC, major rice-producing countries such as Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda to address the challenges facing their rice value chains.