The 12-month initiative is being developed under the Responsible Agriculture Investment project by the Food and Agriculture Organization and implemented by Solidaridad. It seeks to reduce poverty, address gender inequality and enhance food security and nutrition as a contribution to the country’s attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This was disclosed during a workshop held on March 31 at Bo to capture and embed the views of rural farmers in the delivery of the programme. The workshop brought together about 30 participants including rural women and grassroots organizations like the Gender Equality for Peace Building, Women Multi-Purpose Cooperation, Gola Rainforest, Action for Advocacy and Development, Concern Worldwide, Women in the Media Sierra Leone, as well as some educational institutions.
“The SDGs can only be achieved if both men and women equally engage in responsible investments in agriculture. Rural women and their grassroots organizations, if empowered, can actively participate in policy-making processes by raising concerns and contributing to enhancing agricultural investments that improve their livelihoods and ensure gender equity,” said Andrew Morrison, Technical Advisor at Solidaridad in Sierra Leone.
Gender expert and representative from the Food and Agriculture Organization, Kadija Jalloh, said the workshop is in line with a participatory process that the organization initiated in 2020, to enhance gender-responsive investment in Sierra Leone.
She encouraged women to participate in the training programme fully to reap its full benefits.
Kadija noted that the training forms part of the implementation of a roadmap that had been developed by her organization to identify and address the gender needs in the agricultural sector.
A representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Sulaiman Sankoh, said the ministry has initiated a policy shift to encourage private sector investment in agribusiness and is keen on seeing more farmers, including women, invest in agriculture.
Mr. Sankoh commended Solidaridad and the Food and Agriculture Organization for the initiative and their commitment to partner the government in ensuring food productivity, sufficiency and security in the country.
For her part, the Deputy Director at the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Haja Alice Jeneba Koroma, said even though women represent 70 percent of the agricultural labour force in Sierra Leone, there is an unequal opportunity for them in the sector. She was, therefore, excited about the initiative to include rural women in decisions on development interventions that affect them.
Recommendations from the participants have been consolidated to inform the development of a curriculum and the subsequent design and delivery of a tailored learning programme. This will be in support of farmers in the four districts, including Bo, Bombali, Porto-Loko and Kenema.