“It is no denial that Agriculture remains the backbone of the Sierra Leone economy. It contributes 40 to 50% of GDP, about 10% of exports, and provides employment to
approximately two thirds of the population; the very reason why it is key in my Agenda for Prosperity” -President Ernest Bai Koroma; Chairman Presidential Task Force on Agriculture(PTFAg).
Whilst agricultural growth has significant poverty reduction effects, the sector is characterized largely by smallholders, practicing mainly subsistence agriculture.
MY DREAM: THE AGENDA FOR PROSPERITY IN AGRICULTURE...
In recent years and under the Agenda for Change and now Agenda for Prosperity, efforts have been made to introduce mechanized farming practices, through provision of tractors, power tillers and other agricultural tools to farming communities. Over 400 Agricultural Business Centres (ABCs) have been established under the Smallholder Commercialization Programme and provided with appropriate support to enhance agricultural productivity and promote value addition.
Domestic production of food crops, especially rice, the staple food, has increased in recent years, but the proportion of rice imports as a percentage of total rice consumption remains high. The production of cassava and other food products, including sweet potato, poultry, small ruminants and cattle, also increased during the AfC period; the production of traditional export crops such as cocoa and coffee also increased (by 217% and 60% respectively), development that gives credence to success of the Agenda for Prosperity.
Cocoa and coffee exports increased between 2007 and 2011 by 105% and 220% respectively. Despite this growth, agricultural exports remain low and undiversified. Access to market and to credit are severe constraints: to ease them 907 kilometres of feeder roads have been rehabilitated, linking 96 ABCs to production and market centres; ,071 hectares of inland valley swamps have been rehabilitated to facilitate multicropping farming practices; while with support from IFAD, over 50 Financial Services Associations (FSAs) have been established in rural areas to increase farmers’ access to credit. Since 2007, there has been a significant increase in private investment in the agricultural sector, with large investments in oil palm, sugar cane, rubber and fruits. Many of these investments became operational during 2013.
“In the coming years, we hope to put all necessary measures in place to ensure that we use agriculture our most vibrant sector to guide our country to prosperity”-Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma-President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.