Sierra Leone: Big Boost for Trade and Agriculture Sectors

As government is making strides in strengthening the economy, President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma on Friday August 26 received the Senior Vice President Mr Danko Stumbuk of Dole Packaged Foods and the Country Manager Mr Patrick Blake at State House in Freetown.

Dole Packaged Foods, LLC, is a world leader in growing, sourcing, distributing, and marketing fruit and healthy snacks. Dole sells a full-line of packaged ambient fruit, frozen fruit, dried fruit, and juices. Dole Packaged Foods will be stationed in Lugbu Chiefdom in Bo District in Southern Sierra Leone and have a four acre nursery plantation in Rutile.

Receiving the investors, President Koroma registered firm commitment to ensuring that the project succeeds as well as strengthens the agricultural sector. He emphasized the significance of diversifying the economy, opening the agricultural sector and maintaining an amicable relationship with the communities. He furthered that the development of the project will immensely help to reduce poverty, open up and cascade development to rural communities.

While stating the importance of training of local farmers on yield increase, upping industrial know how, and a corresponding increase in export earnings, the president assured of government's continued support and the provision of the required energy to kickstart the project.

Making his statement, the Senior Vice President, Mr Danko Stumbuk, said they have developed a design and done a feasibility study, impact assessment on the environment and identification of the portion of land in Lugbu Chiedom, Bo District. He explained that after planting the nursery, youth in Lugbu Chiefdom will be given the necessary training on growing varieties of papaya, pineapple and mango to enhance sustainability, adding that similar projects in Thailand and Philippines have helped to develop and transform communities to big towns as well as transforming the lives of the locals. He also stressed the importance of the involvement of the community people at different stages of the process to ensure the project succeeds. Mr Stumbuk gave a brief explanation of the production process from the plant reception, the processing plant, carriage and to the warehouse.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA), Mr Raymond Gbekie, said the project will start with an initial employment of 1,500 people and have also identified 4,335 acres of land in Sumbuya in Lugbu Chiefdom, Southern Sierra Leone. He went on to state that the project is both a primary as well as a secondary one, and which further employs two shifts of 800 people in the canning unit.

Source: Government of Sierra Leone.

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