Sierra Leone and FAO sign Groundbreaking South-South and Triangular Cooperation Unilateral Trust Fund Agreement to Boost the Country’s Rice Sector

April 30, 2024

22 March 2024 Freetown -The Government of Sierra Leone and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have today signed an agreement through a Unilateral Trust Fund (UTF) that marks a pivotal step towards transforming the rice sector in the country.

The UTF funding modality allows developing and middle-income countries to benefit from FAO’s technical expertise through funds provided by the beneficiary countries themselves, either from national resources or from the proceeds of loans, credits and grants made available by international financial institutions (IFIs) or bilateral resource partners.

The ceremony, which took place in Freetown, saw the participation of the FAO Representative, Mr Saeed Abubakar Bancie, and the Minister of Agriculture for Sierra Leone, Dr. Henry Musa Kpaka, who both signed the project document. Also attending the ceremony was Mr Ye Anping, the Director of the South-South and Triangular Cooperation Division (PST) in FAO.

Sierra Leone’s commitment to leveraging the UTF, despite being a least-developed country, emerged as a catalyst for attracting substantial funds from other external partners.

This initial approval granted by the Sierra Leone government for the UTF project “Strengthening the Rice Value Chain in Sierra Leone through South-South Cooperation,” reflects the country’s dedication to agricultural development.

“This program is a game changer for rice production and the Government of Sierra Leone flagship program ‘feed salone’, We must collectively support this project to thrive so we all will get the anticipated dividends as a people, a community and a country,” said Dr. Henry Musa Kpaka, the Minister of Agriculture.

One distinctive aspect of the UTF lies in its ability to attract additional funds, as evidenced by the supplementary grant of USD 2.7 million from the World Bank. This supplementary grant, pre-approved and set to take effect now that the UTF agreement has been signed, highlights the international recognition and support garnered by Sierra Leone’s commitment to agricultural transformation.

This UTF project, which will be implemented through South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) together with Vietnam, aims to enhance rice productivity and yield in Sierra Leone by providing access to improved technologies and promoting best practices along the rice value chain.

“I am honoured to be here today to take part in the signing of a Unilateral Trust Fund agreement between FAO and the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone to support a South-South and Triangular Cooperation project on rice production in Sierra Leone. Through this project, we will leverage expertise and knowledge from one of the successful rice producing countries, Vietnam, to support Sierra Leone’s efforts to improve rice production, enhance farmers’ livelihoods, and contribute to the country’s economic growth,” said FAO Representative Saeed Abubakar Bancie.

An innovative approach to South-South and Triangular Cooperation

Skilled experts and technicians specialized in various aspects of rice production, irrigation, breeding, mechanization, and post-harvest management will be deployed to the selected national project sites and research stations.

An innovative approach to SSTC will be adopted, with capacity-building initiatives such as study tours, field training, and train-the-trainers programs empowering local stakeholders.

A tripartite agreement signed in November 2023 paved the way for this transformative project, with Vietnam committing to share its expertise in rice value chain development over the four-year initiative.

“Today’s ceremony not only signifies the formalization of Sierra Leone’s commitment to the UTF project but also showcases the nation’s dedication to agrifood systems transformation through innovative South-South and Triangular Cooperation,” said FAO Director of the PST Division Mr Anping Ye said.

FAO, which has been spearheading and mainstreaming SSTC since 1996, sees this UTF as a potent tool to facilitate knowledge exchange and transfer among developing countries.

Click here to access the original article on the FAO Website.