Agriculture as a Key Sector in addressing Food Insecurity in Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone has rich fertile land, and agriculture has a lot of promise for expansion if only, oh if only… We may look at the effects of the agricultural sector, the issues it faces, and the various solutions we can put in place to ensure that it is a gift rather than a curse for Sierra Leoneans inhabitants. In the small territory of Sierra Leone, a Portuguese sailor called Pedro de Sintra founded the African republic. Sierra Loya got its name from its lion-like mountains. It was afterwards called Sierra Leone, a country that has long been considered as a land paradise owing to the goodness of its rich soil and the quality of its food(Kup, 1961).
The country is suitable for growing Rice (the country’s staple food); it may surprise you to learn that the country in question has a plethora of agricultural products ranging from cassava, maise, millet, cashew, rubber, ginger, vegetables, fruits, and sugarcane; cash crops including cocoa, coffee, and oil palm; and cattle farming are all possible in the area and more. Is this your first time hearing about Sierra Leone? You could think this was the end of that, but it was just the beginning. There are additional coastal and marine resources, most notably fish and recently discovered fuel in the case of sierra leone. It is also one of the most significant land resources for agricultural productivity in Western Africa because of its richness in the fertility of the soil.
What makes them significant players in economic development?
As a result, agriculture in Sierra Leone is considered as having the potential to alleviate poverty and hunger through expanding agricultural investment and trade, creating jobs, and improving people’s livelihoods. Agriculture is the main attraction and the backbone of the Sierra Leonean economy. According to Statistics Sierra Leone, the agriculture industry contributes up to 75% of the entire workforce in the nation(Kamara et al., 2019)
Even though agriculture plays a vital role in household food security, smallholder farmers’ productivity is low, resulting in poverty in Sierra Leone, where smallholder farmers are pretty standard. Smallholder farmers face significant challenges, and solving these issues and improving output in this sector can help rural communities overcome poverty and food insecurity(Kamara et al., 2019). Since independence, agriculture has been and continues to be a substantial contribution to the country’s GDP and foreign exchange rate and a significant source of food for Sierra Leoneans. Even while the economy was struggling in recent years, the industry remained a vital source of government funding for project completion (75, n.d.). However, this raised the question of whether Sierra Leoneans have benefited or suffered due to the just agriculture sector. However, it has to be seen if the effects mentioned above have influenced Sierra Leoneans’ everyday lives.
Furthermore, from the country’s establishment, these industries have played a significant part in the country’s economic growth. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Sierra Leone was ravaged by an eleven-year civil war, which had a detrimental influence on the country’s development.
To pay for this cause, a vast number of residents were slain by weapons during the conflict, causing the collapse of this great nation’s agricultural sector, leading to a rise in malnutrition, hunger, and starvation among its population (Kamara et al., 2019). Most Sierra Leoneans hoped that things would be better after the war and Sierra Leone would be a better country. However several, this is not the scenario.
Sierra Leone’s agricultural industry is currently facing a number of challenges.
Over the last decade, Sierra Leone has struggled to manage its agriculture industry. These issues are worsened because they exist inside a crucial actor in the country’s economic progress. Over the last decade, Sierra Leone has struggled to manage its agriculture industry. These issues are worsened because they exist inside a crucial actor in the country’s economic progress (Cartier & Bürge, 2011). One of the factors regarding the difficulties in the agricultural sector is the restricted access to land because of customary’s law. Several studies show that a large number of people have been impacted by the issue of customary land law and are governed by paramount chiefs, which does not guarantee that the ties will benefit the vest interests or a group of people who are impacted by the impersonal statute of land tenure system as a result of colonial and postcolonial laws and have no form of transparently regulated or accountable to the general public. Because they have limited access to land, most farmers engage in small-scale farming to several sell and preserve food for their families alone. These issues have impacted farmers’ income generation, resulting in a rise in malnutrition among their children and an increase in births and deaths among most children under the age of five.
Furthermore, this has resulted in a massive illegal agricultural trade inside Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia’s borders. Another contentious issue in Sierra Leone is the absence of road connectivity between the various areas and the city, Freetown. That is not the end of the tale; for many Sierra Leoneans, the rise in the price of agricultural commodities in Freetown has been a significant cause of anxiety over the years.
Consider how a country blessed with abundant land can import its fundamental staple food, rice, if we all live in a dream world. Furthermore, despite the country’s austerity, another concern has been environmental disasters, most notably in mining operations, which have increased the demand for land. However, closing the chapter has led to a significant increase in Sierra Leone’s job unemployment rate, with over 48% of the country’s youth unemployed and around 12% unemployed. Sierra Leone has a tremendous issue due to its high poverty rate! Concerns such as crop pest disease increased deforestation for timber export, and insufficient agricultural intensity for farmers has led to the establishment of the significant and most crucial problem, which is the high poverty rate experienced by many Sierra Leonean farmers.
What can we do to make things better from what we’re already doing?
- This highlights Sierra Leoneans’ obligation to effect the change they desire in their country; this may be accomplished through growing agricultural sectors, which are essential actors in the country’s economic growth.
- In the prior statement, we saw other rapidly expanding African countries invest in the business, suggesting that it is our responsibility to take charge of the sector and our country. Sierra Leoneans have asked the government whether Rwanda, a landlocked nation, Botswana, and Mauritius are realistic possibilities for addressing the issues. Who’s to say they won’t do the same?
- In this situation, the Sierra Leone government may take the next step by investing in and allocating more budget to agricultural output; considering that the industry is already a significant contributor to the country’s economic development, picture the impact if more money is invested.
- We’re not talking about motorcycle highways connecting Freetown to district headquarters and provinces, but rather roads connecting district headquarters to deep headquarters towns and villages, from which agricultural produce can be transported quickly and affordably to the capital city, addressing the country’s food insecurity.
Let’s build new sierra leone.
Imagine a Sierra Leone with a high employment rate, robust and consistent economic growth, and agricultural revenue capable of caring for unborn newborns in the fight against food poverty. If you are a citizen of this lovely country, don your thinking hats and gowns for a few seconds and contemplate how the proposal mentioned above may be implemented. Sierra Leoneans may be proud of a more efficient natural resource management system and a less corrupt political climate. Aaah, how we hope to see Sierra Leone’s development. We can overcome and accomplish the impossible through unity and make Sierra Leone a better place.
Hopkins, W. (n.d.). FINDINGS OF SIERRA LEONE JANUARY 2020 Food Security Monitoring. 16.
UN Women | Africa. 2020. Women In Agribusiness In Sierra Leone. [online] Available at: <https://africa.unwomen.org/en/newsandevents/stories/2017/06/women-in-agribusin
Cartier, L. E., & Bürge, M. (2011). Agriculture and Artisanal Gold Mining in Sierra Leone: Alternatives or Complements? Journal of International Development, 23(8), 1080–1099. https://doi.org/10.1002/jid.1833
Kamara, A., Conteh, A., Rhodes, E. R., & Cooke, R. A. (2019). The relevance of smallholder farming to African agricultural growth and development. African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, 19(1), 14043–14065.
Alamy, L. (2020). Own the blank page – Stock photos and videos from. Alamy. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://www.alamy.com/