By Alfred Fornah

The Agribusiness Investment Forum which was held on the 18th and 19th September brought together a unique group of diaspora investors, entrepreneurs, Japanese private companies and key stakeholders connecting and problem-solving to enhance development prospects for agribusiness contributing to inclusive growth in Sierra Leone.

The event at Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel, organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Sierra Leone mission in collaboration with the Office of Diaspora Affairs (ODA) sponsored by the Japanese Government saw remarks and presentations, hearing from the Head of Mission IOM Sierra Leone Mr Sanusi Savage, Minister of Agriculture, Joseph Ndanema, Minister of Trade, Peter Bayuku Conteh, Foday Yumkella, Minister of Political and public Affairs and Minister of Planning and Economic Development Nabila Tunis, UN Resident Coordinator Sunil Saigal, Ahmed Nanoh Chamber of Agribusiness Development (SLeCAD) and enjoyed panel discussions with technical experts from  both the public and private sector including  Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture (SLCCIA), Sierra Leone Import Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA),  Local content Agency, Sierra Leone Market Women Association, Khadie Fresh Foods, Afrilosophy, ODA,  Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Farmers Market  and Connecting Diaspora for Development (CD4D).

The Minister of Agriculture, Joseph Ndanema said:

“We import 200 million tonnes of rice, this is unacceptable and this is our challenge to improve our people’s nutrition and food security”

Amadu Massally IOM Consultant Coordinator  for the Forum said:

“Sierra Leone diaspora are an integral part of Sierra Leone’s economic recovery. Engaging this community is critical to our national development.”

Later in the evening on the 18th September, at the 232 Entertainment Complex, five Sierra Leone agribusinesses got an amazing opportunity to pitch their projects and enterprises to assembled investors   at an event organized by the  Freetown Pitch Night.

Meanwhile, the 2nd day (19th September)  saw panel discussions with the UK’s Department for International Development, World Vision and the African Development Bank offering valuable insights into the entry points for agribusiness development in Sierra Leone.

Ensued other panel discussions involving Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data and Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition focused on using open data and information technology in agribusiness and break out sessions on how to foster a culture of entrepreneurship and strengthen support for both diaspora and in-country entrepreneurs.

Moreover,the second day of the Agribusiness Investment Forum also delivered  tangible results with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Sierra Leone Produce Marketing Company (SLPMC) and cocoa processor, Taschibana International Ghana Co.