The Registrar of the Cooperative Department under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Mr. Newton Marlin has informed farmers in Moyamba District that the global corona virus pandemic should not prevent them from cultivating their farms otherwise the country would be faced with another challenge of hunger stressing that the global pandemic should not stop farmers from planting, weeding and harvesting their various crops.
With support from the government of Sierra Leone and the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Department donated preventive materials also trained farmers in basic financial and management skills and visited some of the farms in the District.
How to add value to their produce at the market price, improve production standards, market prices and the exchange rate were some of the topics discussed as all the speakers commended the idea of establishing a farmers cooperative in the district and pledged to disseminate the knowledge all over the district.
Mr. Newton Marlin made the statement in his keynote address on Friday 3rd July 2020 at the conference room of the Ministry of Agriculture in Moyamba while distributing COVID-19 preventive gears including facemasks, hand sanitizers, buckets and other items to prevent the spread of the virus in addition to sensitizing the farmers about the preventive measures as well as the need for them to form cooperatives that would enable them attract investors to embark on large scale mechanized farming to make them rich underscoring the need for reliable data to attract investors and development planners and urged them not to depend on government reiterating that the cooperative is a very important sector as there is similarity between it and development.
He affirmed that the meeting was for farmers to form agricultural cooperatives now, that farmers are the richest people in the developed world, that continuous training would be provided for them, that there is need to sensitize youths about cooperatives so as to catch them young, that a consultant has been hired to review the Cooperative Policy and Act that is currently ongoing and that now is the time for them to work even harder while at the same time observing the COVID-19 preventive measures even when farming so as not to contract or spread the disease.
The registrar of Cooperatives also informed that there are other cooperatives like fishing, mining, tenants, traders but not agricultural which has been neglected over the years, that in developed countries like the United States, Canada, France and Ireland members of cooperatives put their resources together to achieve a common goal and recalled that cooperatives were very strong in Sierra Leone with schools, clinics and other assets and that the Department is working very hard to reactivate them.
Mr. Merlin went on to intimate farmers that the Department wants to bring together all the sectors in farming into the cooperative to among other improve the lives of farmers and also disclosed plans to reopen the Cooperative Bank, that the visit to review farmer cooperatives would continue in other parts of the country and enlightened that Credit Union is the banking wing/sector of cooperatives with many beneficiaries disclosing that one of the Cooperatives in Freetown makes over a Le1 billion turnover annually and admonished the farmers to first and foremost form an executive, followed by an Annual General Meeting and constitution.
Statements were also made by the Deputy Registrar of Cooperatives, Mr. Alfred Moseray, the Accountant of the Cooperative Department, the District Agriculture Officer, Mr. Mohamed Kamara, Mrs. Mary Bundu of the Moyamba Teachers Cooperative and other dignitaries.
Highlight of the interactive meeting was the presentation of the COVID-19 preventive materials.