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Sierra Leone, Viet Nam strengthen South-South Cooperation through agriculture

By John Baimba Sesay, Press Attaché, PR China: : :

In an endeavour to move forward with the South-South Cooperation Programme between Sierra Leone and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, and with financial support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), a seven man delegation from Sierra Leone recently returned home, after visiting Viet Nam from the 13th to 19th of January, 2013.

Objectives of the mission were to engage in technical discussion on the proposed areas of support with clear agreement on specific deliverables and outcomes to be realized during the formulation and the implementation of the programme; discuss and agree on the selection criteria including the skills and experience of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam experts and technicians that will be deployed under the South- South Cooperation programme; explore opportunities of collaboration in the development of Inland Valley Swamps, and implementation of aquaculture projects in Sierra Leone; and discuss in detail the planned assessment formulation mission and identify the team of experts that will be fielded to Sierra Leone, review their Terms of Reference and define the way forward.

The team was comprised of the outgoing Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Ali Badara Mansaray, as Head of Delegation, Alfred Dixon from the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute, Joseph Seisay Koroma and Sheku Tejan Kamara, all from the Ministry of Agriculture. Representing the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources was Kamorba K. Dabo and Francisco Dias Chimuco and Joseph Brima, both from the Food and Agricultural Organisation.
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During their visit, discussions were held with the Government of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, which was represented by the Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nguyen Thi Xuan Thu and Officers from the same Ministry; the FAO staff in Viet Nam; the National Institute of Agricultural Planning and Projection; the Viet Nam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, the Research Institute for Aquaculture and Viet Nam Institute of Agricultural Engineering and Postharvest Technology.

The team also visited the Aquaculture and Postharvest Engineering and Postharvest Technology Institutes. Both Deputy Ministers appreciated the efforts of the two countries and FAO and affirmed their willingness and interest to bring the process of fielding the mission to Sierra Leone to a logical conclusion. During the meeting with the Viet Nam Academy of Agricultural Sciences on the 15th of January, emphasis were placed on areas that the Government of Sierra Leone would require experts and technicians for the South-South Cooperation programme, such as; Low Land Rice Production, Aquaculture, Pre and Post Harvest Engineering and Cross-cutting component.
Technical briefings and presentations were made by the heads of the various divisions of the Sierra Leone Ministries of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security and Fisheries and Marine which were largely focused on the current status of the various agricultural and aquaculture sub-sectors and the overall strategic direction for the two sectors within the framework of the Agenda for Prosperity of Sierra Leone. A brief update regarding the recent structural arrangements within the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Headquarters in Rome was made by its delegate representative from Rome, Fransico Chimuco. These arrangements have given rise to the establishment of a unit responsible for coordinating the South-South Cooperation programme among countries, providing assistance in resource mobilization, and facilitating the linkages among member countries of the South-South Cooperation programme.
Over the years, both countries have been undertaking visits like this latest one, with two to the Republic of Sierra Leone by the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam delegation and one to the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam by the Deputy Minister 1, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security from the Republic of Sierra Leone to develop a framework of cooperation. One of such visits culminated in the signing of a Memorandum Of Understanding with Viet Nam .

Broader areas that were discussed included, but not limited to; water control,irrigation,crop intensification and diversification and agroforestry. This recent visit will continue to strengthen the bilateral and multilateral ties between the two countries as both have agreed to explore potential areas of economic and developmental cooperation.
Meanwhile, the Viet Nam Academy of Agricultural Science has confirmed their technical capacity to fully participate in the South-South Cooperation programme as they have presented the proposal of cooperation with Sierra Leone. Details of their response include, amongst others: investment to develop 1,000ha of rice cultivation in Tormabum, of which 100ha is set up as a station for producing pre-basic seeds and foundation seeds; investment to develop 55,000ha of rice cultivation in Tormabum and develop and implement plan on producing pre-basic and foundation seeds as requested by the Ministry of Agriculture in Sierra Leone.
The signing of an aide memoire between the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Viet Nam, the Sierra Leone Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security of Sierra Leone and FAO climaxed the week-long visit.
The agriculture sector is one key area where both Viet Nam and Sierra Leone have reaffirmed their commitment for joint collaboration and have had several exchange visits that have been fielded to undertake detailed field assessments and to discuss possible areas of collaboration in the agriculture and fisheries sectors. Viet Nam is among the countries that the Sierra Leone Embassy in the People’s Republic of China is accredited to Asia.

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