Spokesperson of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Bill Murray has predicted that economic growth in Sierra Leone could decline by as much as 3.5 percent, citing the effect of the Ebola outbreak on faming activities as key reason for the sharp decline.
The unexpected outbreak of the Ebola plague has succeeded to cripple agriculture and mining activities that are key to the country’s expected 11.3% growth for 2014 as they jointly contribute almost 80% in our recent economic growth ratings made by World Bank and IMF.
He said the crisis has exposed financing gaps totaling 100 million dollars to 130 million dollars in Sierra Leone, as agriculture among other sectors was brought to its knees in the wake of the Ebola outbreak. The IMF has thus pegged economic growth in Sierra Leone falling to 8% from the 11.3% that was expected this year.
Dr Joseph Sam Sesay, Minister of Agriculture has stated that Agriculture makes up half of Sierra Leone’s GDP and employs two thirds of the country’s workforce, but estimates the impact of Ebola on the economy to be a 30 percent GDP drop. Ebola worse hit areas produce some of Sierra Leone’s principal cash crops: coffee, cocoa, cassava and lead food staple- rice.
Minister Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay has set out to upset grim prediction by initiating safe farming campaigns that will see farmers returning to their farms but at the same time taking due precautions to help break the transmission chain of Ebola among the farming population of the country.
With the realization that pending shortfalls in the country’s agricultural produce especially the rice-staple will further negate the impact of the outbreak on agriculture, the Minister of Agriculture now redirects the his ministry’s Ebola response to the need to engage in safe farming practices. Here, farmers are expected to return to their farm holds to help in the impending food crisis whilst observing all the measures to help break the chain of transmission of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
A country wide assessment tour by Agri News team reveal that so far, there has not been widespread shortages of the staple rice and this has been confirmed by the Policy and Research Unit of the Ministry of Finance in Freetown.
This new campaign initiated by the country’s Agriculture Ministry according Sam Sesay is geared towards closing any possible gaps that may occur as result of the health crisis especially on the supply of primary food needs on the local market. Hopefully the Minister noted, “the country will not be drawn into major food crisis as we trek on the path of recovery in the coming weeks and months”.