UN family hands over palm oil processing plant and information platform to the agribusiness centre on Africa Day

25 May 2011

image A trainee palm oil processer demonstrating how the machine works at the SABI Centre in Newton (UNDP/C. Thomas)

Director General of the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), Kandeh Yumkella, along with a high powered delegation from the Peacebuilding Commission and the UN family in Sierra Leone, has handed over a Palm Oil processing plant and solar-powered Business Information and Communication (BIC) platform to the Sierra Leone Agri-Business Initiative (SABI) Centre in Newton on Africa Day, May 25th 2011.

“Sierra Leonean people must have entrepreneurial skills to fight poverty” Yumkella told the assembled dignitaries and community representatives whilst handing over the facility and equipment to the MP representing Newton, Hon Claude Kamanda and the Newton community.

Kandeh Yumkella explained that SABI is designed to blend three distinctive features of the Songhai model: a practical training to enable trainees acquire the basic skills needed to engage in various agricultural production and marketing activities, entrepreneurship training aimed at capacitating its graduates to establish and successfully run agro-enterprises and a value system – “the Songhai spirit” – which seeks to inculcate in young people high moral standards, a sense of self worth and social responsibility.”

Chair of the PBC, Ambassador McNee said “it seems to me that the project will be self-sufficient in a few years”.

UNDP Country Director Ms Mia Seppo said that the Newton centre has the potential to become a centre of excellence in developing sustainable agribusinesses in Sierra Leone, that will be linked to the Governments agricultural commercialization efforts and UNIDO supported growth centres around the country. This, she added will help in creating employment in particular for the youth and women and improving food security.

Ms Mia Seppo said “…but the success of the centre will only be possible with the support from a broad range of partners, particularly the private sector, the commitment of the Songhai trainees and the extent to which it is owned by the community and youth…. UNDP has been involved in the effort to establish the center since 2008. Our support has included a number of visits by Sierra Leoneans to the Songhai Center in Benin. Currently a number of construction and rehabilitation work are ongoing at the centre with UNDP support. So far a draft business plan, production plan and costing and an annual work plan have been developed.”

Hon Claude Kamanda, who also chaired the ceremony expressed joy and appreciation to the Government “For providing this centre for the SABI project and UNDP and UNIDO for their support so far in ensuring this project comes to fruition.”

Joe Minah, one of the trainees who have just returned from training at the Songhai Centre in Benin said “I call on the people of Sierra Leone to have faith in the SABI Centre. We have seen the Songhai model in Benin and we are determined to make it successful particularly for the youths… we now have the Songhai spirit to do the work”

The Songhai Centre in Benin, is globally recognized as a world leader in innovative and ecologically sustainable agri-enterprises. It has evolved an integrated value chain system organized in commercially viable clusters of agro-enterprises and developed a practically oriented training program for out of school graduates and youth in rural and peri-urban areas. The Songhai model adopts a holistic approach to agri-business and entrepreneurship development, which involves training, provision of support services, linkage to credit and market through networking of graduates from the training.

Contact Information

Abdul Karim Bah, Communications Analyst, UNDP Sierra Leone. Tel: + 232 33 167 428. Email: abdul-karim.bah@undp.org