Africa > West Africa > Sierra leone > Sierra leone Agriculture Profile

Sierra Leone: Sierra leone Agriculture Profile


Sierra Leone Development Projects Harvest-globserver

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) continues to affect farming activities in some areas

Planting of the 2015 major rice crop is almost completed. According to satellite imagery, precipitation was average to above-average from April to the initial dekad of July, allowing for land preparation and planting. However, new cases of the EVD continue to be confirmed each week in the country and the Government has maintained the national of health emergency. As of mid-July 2015, Sierra Leone has reported 13 209 cumulative Ebola cases, inclunding 3 947 deaths. Although ten of the 14 districts have been declared Ebola-free, having gone 42 days without reporting any new cases, movement restrictions continue to be implemented in affected districts such as Kambia and Port Loko. As a result, restrictions on the gathering of people inclunding below-average incomes continue to limit farming activities in affected communities. According to a recent World Bank survey, while rice planting activities have not been disrupted, working hours are still below the baseline and may hamper the 2015/16 agricultural production.

Last year, the EVD outbreak resulted in a critical shock to the agriculture and food sectors in 2014. The epidemic started to spread at the same time as crops were being planted and grew during the crop maintenance period, and again expanded rapidly during the critical harvesting period for the staple rice, maize and cassava crops. Various farming activities, inclunding crop maintenance (such as weeding, fencing and application of chemicals) and harvesting have been disrupted mostly through labour shortages. Production of rice, the major staple crop in the Mano River Region, has been most affected.

Based on the GIEWS Disease Impact on Agriculture – Simulation (DIAS) Model and the findings of Rapid Assessments carried out in the country, the accumulation food crop production in 2014 is estimated at 2.09 million tonnes (inclunding cassava in cereal equivalent and rice in milled terms), which is 5 % lower than the record harvest of 2013. Of this total, milled rice production (using the milling rate of 66.7 %) is estimated at 770 000 tonnes, 8 % lower than the year before and accounts for about 85 % of the cereal production. Total coarse grains (maize, sorghum, millets and other small grains) and cassava in cereal equivalent (32 % of fresh weight) are estimated to have declined by 4 % and 3 %, respectively. The relatively low level of impact at the national level masks the sub-national production and food security impacts. For example, the negative impact on rice production is estimated as high as ­17 % in Kailahun.

Food markets have been disrupted by outbreak and continue to function at below-average levels

 	Sierra Leone -globserverAlthough the country’s dependency on imported rice has been decreasing in recent years, it still remains a net importer, with a cereal import dependency ratio of about 18 %. Border closures, quarantine measures and other restrictions have seriously disrupted marketing of goods, inclunding agricultural commodities. Trade activities are estimated to have declined significantly, particularly in quarantined districts.

According to a recent FEWSNet survey, as of May 2015, 46 % of people surveyed reported that the majority significant market in their area was closed or operating at reduced levels. Twenty-eight % of traders as well reported that agricultural and market activities continue to function at below-average levels. The economic slowdown due to Ebola has resulted in low gain levels and weak household purchasing power.

In May 2015, local rice prices remained mostly stable, except in rural parts of the Western Area where they rose by 5 % and in Freetown where prices increased by 3 %. Prices of imported rice increased by 13 % in Kenema and by 7 % in urban parts of the Western Area.

Food security severely affected by EVD outbreak

Beyond its impact on the agriculture and food sector, the EVD has seriously affected all other sectors of the economy. The mining, manufacturing and service sectors have been the hardest hit. According to the World Bank’s revised estimates, 2015 GDP will grow by 5.7 % instead of the before forecasted 7.7 %, with critical impact on livelihoods, gain and access to food. The disruption of food chains due to the closing of markets, road blocks and quarantines, restricted cross border trading, inclunding changes in traders’ behaviour due to the fear of Ebola has significantly reduced the gain of EVD-affected communities inclunding producers, consumers and traders. Specifically, gain generating activities typically led by women, such as small trading, have been hit hard and the ban on bush meat has as well deprived a lot of households of an significant source of nutrition and gain. This has in turn negatively impacted on the food security situation of large number of people in the affected communities. In general, according to the new “Cadre Harmonisé” analysis, about 1.1 million people are currently estimated to be in Phase 3: “Crisis” and above and are in need of urgent assistance across the country.





  • Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) continues to disrupt agricultural labour and farming activities in some districts
  • After several years of steady growth, rice production dropped by 8 percent in 2014 due to the effects of the EVD outbreak
  • Food markets continue to function at below-average levels
  • Number of food insecure people estimated at about 1.1 million people between June and August 2015