Guinea rice project reaps rewards

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pretoria -The R45 million three-year project to help create food security in poverty-stricken Guinea in West Africa is showing positive results.

The project, which was started in 2008 between South Africa, Guinea and Vietnam, is part of a strategy to stabilise poor African countries and is intended to assist improve food security in Guinea by, among others, increasing the production of rice and vegetables on a sustainable and economically viable basis.

In a joint communiqu, following their two-day High Level Review Panel meeting, the three countries indicated that the project has strengthened the local market.

The meeting was attended by Deputy Minister of International Relations, Ebrahim Ebrahim, the Guinean Minister of Agriculture Jean Telliano and the Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ho Xuan.

According to the ministers, small scale farmers in Guinea also benefitted from selling excess products and raised funds to meet some of their basic needs.

The communiqu, indicates that the pilot project to plant rice in the rural communities of Kamsa, Mankountan and Tamboni has directly and indirectly benefitted over 400 families.

As a result of this, up to 4 000 persons in surrounding areas have also indirectly benefitted from the project through employment opportunities and the consumption of rice, the nation's staple diet.

The communiqu, also notes that only 33.43% of the R45 million has been spent. The ministers attributed the slow pace to a number of challenges, both political and financial, which resulted in an atmosphere that was inimical to the attainment of some of the set objectives.

In this light, they have agreed to roll over the project funding for an additional two years, ending 31 May 2013.

Ebrahim said that "the project was to demonstrate South Africa's commitment to contribute significantly to food security and skills development" in Guinea.

Guinea is one of the world's poorest nations. Political instability has made it difficult for the project to progress fully. Telliano assured that Guinea was now a democratic country.

Until last year, Guinea was one of the continent's states whose direction was determined not by the ballot box but by the mood of officers inside the capital's barracks.

The general who seized power in the final month of 2009 agreed to hand over the country to civilians in the elections that took place last November.

Commenting on the latest attempts to assassinate President Alpha Conde, Telliano said these were attempts by people trying to undermine the democratically elected president.