YMCA AGRICULTURE INVESTMENT
Among the programme thrusts of YMCA Sierra Leone, the National Council seeks to embark on agriculture in the Tikonko Chiefdom, Southern Sierra Leone. The principal objectives of the YMCA Agricultural Investment are four folds:
• To increase the revenue base of YMCA over time,
• To complement effort towards food security drive in Sierra Leone,
• To promote community participation in the Tikonko community and its environs,
• To empower young farmers with improved agriculture techniques in order to improve their nutritional status and enhance self sustainability through farming activities.
To enhance implementation of the Agriculture project, 21 of acres of land have been acquired by YMCA for upland farming. Two permanent farm staff employed for the implementation process are Farm Caretaker and Block Extension Supervisor. The Block Extension Supervisor provides timely technical assistance, other professional services and periodic supervision and monitoring to farm caretaker and contract farm labourers.
The national farm is currently planted to 9 acres of oil palm (permanent crop) and 11 acres of cassava (root crop). The land is also planted to pineapple, banana and plantain which account for less than 1 acre. In the nearest future, YMCA hopes to embark on value-added commercialization of cassava in order to supply the proximate market and consumers with a variety of preferred cassava products.
In promoting community participation, YMCA agriculture investment has so far provided daily and periodic contract employment for more than 650 youth males and females (farm labour). To a greater extent, it has enabled most young people to easily access money at time of YMCA farm operations for their households and their own farm operations. In this regard, most young male and female the project host community and its environs have acquired and adopted improved crop production practices since the inception of the project in 2008 under the supervision of the Block Extension Supervisor attached to the project. Through the implementation of this project, YMCA is recognized by the Government of Sierra Leone as a partner of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security.