How Minister of Agriculture Sabotages Bio’s Government

A US$60M project in agriculture is being whittled down by the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Dennis Vandy.
Documents and correspondences between the ministry and the Chief Executive Officer for Integrated Solutions Africa/Agrotop (ISA), Raphael Israel indicate that the Minister is dragging his feet towards the actualisation of the project.
The project would have benefitted 2,000 youths in Sierra Leone had Minster Vandy given it his blessings.
Vandy could not be reached for comments to get his own side.
Two project sites, Taiama and Njala in the Moyamba district, Southern Sierra Leone have been targeted for the implementation of the project.
One of the project sites, Njala community hosts Njala University, an institution reputed for its high emphasis on agriculture.
The college is blessed with the finest agricultural brains in Sierra Leone that the project developers and implementers will tap for the common good.
As the project moves at a snail pace, reminder letters have been addressed to the government by ISA/Agrotop CEO making a strong case for the implementation of the project.
One of the notable correspondences between ISA/Agrotop and government was the 24th March 2020 letter addressed to the Office of the President.
The letter was written at the time of an inevitable COVID-19 outbreak in Sierra Leone.
The document alludes to the devastating nature of Ebola Virus and places emphasis on the looming disaster of COVID-19 and calls on government to encourage investment for self-reliance in the not too-distant future.
“For Sierra Leone, a country which suffered greatly during the Ebola epidemic…the next few months ahead could affect the future of this country for many years to come. Unfortunately, Owing to the global nature of the virus, it is doubtful, there will be any international aid as each affected country is now fighting for its own survival,” the letter reads in part.
The letter also reminds President Bio about his promise that agriculture will be a key government intervention in a bid to attain food self-sufficiency and diversification of the economy.
“As a result of this declaration, a decision was made to continue with an Agrotop industrial poultry project,” the letter also reads.
The correspondence was preceded by meetings between ISA/Agrotop CEO and the Minister of Agriculture in the presence of his two deputies, Dr Abu Bakarr Samking and Samking Braima.
In one of those meetings, Mr Israel said, the Minister and his deputies expressed positive support for the poultry project, and assured the CEO that his ministry would continue with the preparation of necessary documents required to present the project to cabinet.
Apart from several meetings the ISA CEO said he held with the Deputy Ministers, he had also held discussions them on the need to expedite the project for the interest of Sierra Leoneans.
Their response about signing the document for presentation to cabinet is always negative.
“During our conversation with the Deputy Ministers of Agriculture, they repeatedly told me they had not been given authorisation by the Minister to finalise and sign the paper for cabinet,” Mr Israel said.
Documents laid hands on by nightwatch indicate no reason for a protracted delay for the implementation of the project by the Minister.
Moreover, the delay, according to Mr Israel has caused the lender, the Financial Institute of Israel to become increasingly concerned over the lack of information from the Ministries of Agriculture and Finance.
To date, the ISA/Agrotop CEO is yet to meet with the Minister of Agriculture and forestry for fruitful discussions.
“I have been frequently told that he is too busy to meet with me,” Mr Israel said.
In spite of the prolonged delay, Mr Israel is quite certain that the cabinet paper has been signed and authorised by the Minister.
However, Mr Israel is highly suspicious that the Minister is unwilling to present the paper to cabinet for reason known only to him.
“The project cannot go ahead without cabinet approval,” he emphasised.
The poultry farm project is delayed at a time the country needs the highest number of investors to reduce joblessness and poverty in Sierra Leone.

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