President Dr. Julius Maada Bio was briefed on Friday, January 26, 2024, by a delegation from the K-Rice Belt Initiative of South Korea. The team, led by Jae-Hyeon Ryu, comprised agricultural experts who provided updates on their visit and outlined plans to bolster rice production, enhance food security, and reduce dependence on rice imports.
During the meeting, the team shared insights from their pre-feasibility study and site assessments, identifying Bo Manehun in the Bonthe District as a prime location due to its fertile land, expansive area, accessibility, and feasible water supply. The delegation informed the President that they would present their findings to the South Korean government, followed by necessary infrastructure improvements in the selected area to support the initiative.
The delegation assured President Bio that they would return to kickstart the implementation process, commencing with a comprehensive study. Effective implementation is expected to begin later this year.
President Julius Maada Bio expressed his enthusiasm for the collaboration and highlighted the recent visit of the outgoing Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Sierra Leone, His Excellency KIM Young Chae, who had informed him about the impending visit. The President emphasized the importance of the Sierra Leone-Korea relationship, particularly in the realm of food production.
President Bio expressed optimism that the Koreans would share their experiences and expertise, contributing to the local capacity building. He underscored the significance of knowledge transfer, urging active local involvement in all facets of the project. The President expressed his commitment to the initiative and pledged full government support, including infrastructure improvements such as roads leading to the selected sites.
The K-Rice Belt Initiative, launched by South Korea as part of its international aid and cooperation programs, aims to collaborate with several African countries to enhance rice production capabilities based on Korea’s success in rice cultivation and agricultural technology.
This visit follows discussions between President Bio and Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol during the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in September the previous year. Subsequently, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Dr. Henry Musa Kpaka, visited Korea to engage with Deputy Prime Minister Choi Sang-mok and the K-Rice Belt Initiative leadership, expressing Sierra Leone’s interest.
Sierra Leone’s formal application to join the initiative was approved by the Korean Government, leading to the formalization of the partnership through a memorandum of understanding signed on October 16, 2023, coinciding with the launch of FEED SALONE by President Bio.
According to the MoU, the K-Rice Belt Initiative aims to increase rice production by introducing high-yielding seed varieties, transfer technology and knowledge through advanced agricultural practices, and provide machinery and extension services. The initiative seeks to promote sustainable agricultural practices and ensure the long-term viability and resilience of rice cultivation in Sierra Leone.