FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages 1-2/00 - Sierra Leone

from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Published on 04 Feb 2000
An FAO Crop Assessment Mission visited the South West, Southern and part of Eastern regions in December 1999. The other northern or eastern regions were not accessible due to security constraints. The Mission found that the agricultural sector has been extensively disrupted by civil disturbances throughout the country, even including the Southern region where relative peace now prevails. Over the years, farmers have lost all their productive resources including seeds, implements and other capital assets. There has been large- scale destruction of infrastructure and rural institutions. As most rural farm families were displaced, availability of labour for planting and harvesting is a major constraint. Also, farmers' capacity to retain stocks is low due to financial constraints and the fear of looting by rebels. Practically all the farmers are dependent on Government and NGOs for the supply of seeds, and thus planted areas are highly determined by the capacity of these agencies to assist them. Due to shortages of seeds and other inputs, average rice area per farm has declined from about 0.80 hectare normally to about 0.60 hectare in the current year. Thus, the shortage of tools, fertilizers and labour adversely affected food production in 1999.
The Mission estimated rice area in 1999 at about 225 000 hectares, about 21 percent below the 1998 estimate of 285 000 hectares. Despite very good rainfall, delayed transplanting and shortages of inputs resulted in a decline in yields of about 4 percent from the previous year. Thus, production of paddy is estimated as 248 220 tonnes for 1999, about 24.4 percent below the 1998 estimate of 328 310 tonnes. 1999 paddy production is around 45 percent of the pre-war (1990) production and just about 60 percent of 1997 production when the security situation improved in many parts of the country. In the South-West region, where the security situation has improved, production has increased slightly over the previous year. However, in the North, North-West and part of Eastern region, where insecurity was high and remained inaccessible to most of the relief agencies, both area and yield decreased from the previous year.

Total cereal supply in 2000, including rice in milled form, is estimated at 181 000 tonnes against a utilization requirement of 510 000 tonnes, resulting in an import requirement of 329 000 tonnes for 2000. This compares with 1999 estimated imports of 290 000 tonnes, an increase of 13 percent. Over the war years, there has been a steady substitution of roots and tubers for cereals, and this largely explains the estimated small increase in cereal imports between the two years.