The International Development Association (IDA) and the government of Sierra Leone hacve signed a US $10m Agro-Business Financing Agreement for the Sierra Leone agro-processing competitiveness project. The loan, which is to be paid in 32 years’ time was recently approved by Sierra Leone’s members of Parliament.
Presenting the loan agreement to the House for discussion, Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr. Patricia Lavaley, said the project’s main focus is the promotion of an enabling environment. This, she says, would cost US $2m. Dr. Layaley said that these funds will go towards helping reduce the burden and constraints faced by agro-business through the Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs).
According to media reports the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) will be in charge of reducing the cost of obtaining environmental license. Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) will also be there to develop a program for retention of agro-processing in the country.
The deputy Minister stated that Standard Bureau will help to improve standards of goods in the agro-business. Moreover, the Ministry of Trade is to be the sole beneficiary tasked with providing oversight function among the institutions and also enhance coordination and the proper setting up of agro-business.
Dr. Layaley further stated that US $6m will be channeled towards increase in productivity and strengthening the key value chain of agro-business. It will also be used as investment to key innovators for the provision of secondary goods.
Approximately US $2m will be used for the implementation, monitoring and evaluation to help support the Coordinating Units to oversee the project preparation and contract management. Dr. Lavaley explained that the project will enhance job creation and income generation, adding that it would also provide technical advancement to the SMEs and will strengthen productivity and also increase new investment in the market sector.