The Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) and other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) made a day visit to the new export farm of Fresh Salone (SL) Ltd in Kobbaya, Kaffu Bollum Chiefdom, in the Port Loko district. The visit was in celebration of the achievements and readiness for vegetable exports to the European Union Market.
In his statement, Mr. Jonathan Rosenfeld, the Managing Director (MD) of Fresh Salone, said they are famers that are certified to produce vegetables for export. He said they aim at exporting 10 tons of fresh vegetables and frozen leaves to the European Union market through clients in Belgium who will subsequently distribute them to other countries on a weekly basis. He further explained that the exportation will start within a month from now with a container of frozen cassava leaves. He said five (5) exporters in agricultural produce have formed the Federation of Agricultural Produce Exporters (FAPE-SL) with more members to join, commenting that they also process hot sauces and dried fruits for the local market and export.
Mr. Rosenfeld, mentioned the relevance of SLIEPA to his investment; saying that the Agency has been very much instrumental to his success, especially when his investment had preliminary problems with the community. He therefore counts on the continuous support and intervention of SLIEPA going forward.
The MD recognized the role of other institutions including the unwavering support of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) to have Sierra Leone ready for export after the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his address, the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Rev. Abraham Sesay Jones, on behalf of his Minister, committed their Ministry’s support to the investment, which has served as an eye-opener for Sierra Leoneans. He said that, the Ministry of Trade and Industry holds a strategic position in governance as they strengthen economic growth and reduce poverty in Sierra Leone. He encouraged Sierra Leoneans to follow the path of Fresh Salone to acquire wealth and eliminate poverty in the achievement of President Bio’s vision for the Country.
He said, a lot of good things have happened under the New Direction Government and a lot more will have to come. He thanked the members of FAPE-SL and assured them of the Ministry’s fullest support for their effort to leverage foreign exchange and said that they want to support the private sector with an upcoming micro-credit scheme for everyone that is serious to do business.
Mr. Sheku Lexmond Koroma, the Chief Executive Officer of the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) said; the moves of Fresh Salone to export vegetables are important because it reduces the country’s balance of payment between export and import. He reminded the audience that SLIEPA has been part of the success of the business. He said such an achievement to be exporting 10 tons of fresh vegetables can only happen with the effort of the New Direction Government under the leadership of the Ministry of Trade and Industry and SLIEPA. He was explicit that the Government of President Bio through the Ministry of Trade and Industry and SLIEPA will continue to support Mr. Rosenfeld and that his investment is well protected as his success will serve as a testament to attract other investors to come.
Mr. Koroma noted that Sierra Leoneans should be proud of this Government, Mr. Rosenfeld and the FAPE-SL for having the country’s vegetables to access the EU market. He appealed to the traditional leaders and the community people to collaborate with Fresh Salone for the good of all and sundry and concluded by saying that, investors had stopped coming because of the COVID-19, but they have started contacting SLIEPA with the assurance of coming, considering the global control measures.
Also, The Chief of Lungi Section, Alimamy Samba Dumbuya II, on behalf of the Paramount Chief (PC) Bai Shebora of Kaffu Bullum Chiefdom, welcomed the guests and said that the investment is their baby; he therefore assured everyone present that they will wholeheartedly continue providing security for it. He said the Paramount Chief advised Fresh Salone to work with the Local Content Policy of employment which they did. Chief Dumbuya said the investment is situated in his Section thus; he is particularly sacrificing to see that it succeeds. He asked the Managing Director to always involve him in activities for community support.
Other speakers included the President of Sierra Leone Women’s Farmers Forum, Representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Representative of the Community, Representative of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP).