The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) and the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) organized a two-day Review and Validation workshop on the Investment Approval Process (IAP) for Agribusiness companies in Sierra Leone on the 18th and 19th October 2017 at the Bintumani Conference Centre Freetown. The IAP is part of the implementation process of the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of land, Fisheries and Forest Resources (VGGT), endorsed by the World Food Committee in May 2012.
Delivering his statement at the event, the Chief Executive Officer, SLIEPA Dylan Sogie-Thomas expressed his delight as been part of this process and particularly memorable for him as that was his first public function as Head of SLIEPA. He reiterated SLIEPA’s commitment and support for the process by ensuring that all available resources like the SLIEPA website and the Trade Information Centre will be used to provide and disseminate the necessary trade and investment information to existing and prospective investors within and outside the country.
Joseph Brima speaking on behalf of the FAO stated that the adoption and implementation of this process will add value to our existing investment approval process in the agribusiness sector. He also mentioned some achievements already made in the implementation of the VGGT process such as the review of the national land policy aligned to best practice, review of the forestry bill and the ongoing fisheries policy review.
Representing the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS), Brima Kebbie, Deputy Permanent Secretary, MAFFS assured the participants of the Ministry’s continued support to the process as the Ministry continues to encourage and provide support to farmers and investors to engage in commercial farming as opposed to subsistence agricultural productivity.
The workshop attracted officials from Government, agribusiness companies, legal consultants, Paramount Chiefs, Local Council representatives, representatives of landowners/landowning families, Civil Society Organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations, etc. Presentations were made by Victor Bangura, Investment Promotion Manager, SLIEPA, Christian Schulze and Chaira Nicodemi of FAO, and Darryl Vhugen Land Tenure Consultant.
The IAP will look at four (4) key activities related to investor journey: screening prospective investors and proposed projects through due diligence, ensuring consultation and participation of all affected stakeholders, requiring impact assessments prior to deciding whether to approve a project, and preparing contracts and agreements for approval by the parties and the relevant authorities. The Recommendations from the two-day review and validation workshop will form part of the implementation process of the IAP in the country.
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