Sierra Leone celebrates World Food Day 2013

img_5111-e1386016773677When Amadu Kaloko went to participate in the World Food Day celebration at Newton on Tuesday, October 29th, he didn’t know he would be coming back to his school with news that would make his whole community proud.

The World Food Day celebration was attended by students from 6 Secondary Schools (Saint Raphael, Lorenzo Govie, Kankalay, Rural Academy and Peninsula) of the Waterloo area, along with more than 500 invitees, all coming to share their knowledge, experience and learn more about Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition. The event was organized by the Rome-based agencies; the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) along with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Forestry (MAFFS).

In order to sensitize students on healthy food choice, prior to the event a quiz competition was organized and students had to answer more than 60 questions concerning the work of the FAO, WFP and IFAD, the work of the Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Forestry, general knowledge on Agriculture but also Nutrition and Health. Peninsula School followed by Rural Academy and Kankalay School were the winning secondary schools of the quiz competition. Following that, vanguards and markers were distributed and students went back to prepare the posters that were displayed on the World Food Day.

“I had worked five hours on this poster and was hoping for the best” said Amadu about his work showing his vision of the World Food Day year theme “healthy People Depend on Healthy Food Systems”. “I am so happy the judge chose mine”.

“I learned about good nutrition practices when doing research for the poster but also in Newton; I didn’t know Sierra Leone produced rice fitted for diabetics and groundnut flavored ice-cream. I also never heard of Peanut Butter Project and their ‘Plumpy Nut’ before and was impressed with it”.

Indeed, farmers, entrepreneurs, NGOs and other partners displayed their products the whole day. People could learn about and purchase locally processed food like healthy Meringa products, lemon grass oil, coconut gari, as well as delicious fruit juice. The cooking lesson organized by Hellen Keller for under 23 month’s infants was also a success.

The event was an opportunity for participants to network and the organizers to raise awareness on the state of Food production and the importance of food diet to be and stay healthy. In his statement, FAO Representative Gabriel Rugalema reminded participants that in the world, 842 million people still face the problem of hunger and food sufficiency. He encouraged Sierra Leoneans to invest and be actively involved in agriculture as it is the only way to achieve food security and to develop the country.

The Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Forestry, Joseph Sam-Sesay said over the past five years the rice and cassava production increased but efforts still have to be made.

For Amadu and his schoolmates, the day was a success and they all agreed they learned whilst having a good time. The following days, he was surprised by the praise coming from his family, school staffs but also neighbors and members of the communities. “I was very surprised, I wasn’t expected people around to know about it, but they are congratulating me, I feel good”. With more than 100 school students coming from 6 schools participating in the celebration, two competitions and six prizes awarded, farmers from all across the countries, various  NGOS involved in nutrition and numerous representatives from the Private Sectors working in agriculture and food processing, no doubt the Celebration of the World Food Day will be long remembered.