- April 28, 2020
THE NEED OF STRENGTHING THE AGRICULTURAL HOUSEHOLD DURING AND AFTER CORONA VIRUS OUTBREAK IN SIERRA LEONE
A pandemic/ epidemic has always created a great disaster in world history and most time the agricultural sector in Sierra Leone and by extension to Africa bears the greatest disadvantages in terms of food security and livelihood. Sierra Leone as a country in Africa has a total population of 7.65 million people (World Bank 2018) and our major activities for livelihood are farming, mining, and petty trading. The agricultural sector in Sierra Leone over the years has faced several challenges to achieve food security from the civil war to Ebola now coronavirus. The country has a large acreage of fertile land, water, sunlight to support mass agricultural activities. Due to a lack of good and coherent policy little or nothing had been done to salvage the situation. To date, the country’s staple food which is rice is still imported from Thailand, Vietnam, and Pakistan. This will leave one to wonder what is wrong with us as Sierra Leoneans with all the agricultural potential we have and donor support from EU, world bank, IMF, ISDB, ADB, etc yet we’ve failed to exploit them for the good of all and sundry. Based on the executive summary of the 2015 Population and Housing Census in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is still a dominantly agrarian economy with 57.9 percent of households engaged in agricultural production. Out of a total of 732,461 agricultural households nationwide, just 5.5 percent were in paid employment. At the regional level, the Northern region recorded the highest proportion (1.8 percent) of agricultural households in paid employment, with the Western region (0.9 percent) at the bottom. The majority of agricultural households nationwide were in self-employment without employees (76.9 percent). At the regional level, the Northern region again recorded the highest numbers of agricultural households in self-employment, followed this time by the Eastern region, the Southern region, and the Western region.
Notwithstanding, as we are fastly approaching planting season and experiencing climate change as drawback factor and the country is most likely heading for lockdown regards the rapid increase of coronavirus cases I may encourage the government of sierra leone to develop a structured scheme( like food for work, high-quality seeds to increase production, etc) as my grandmum from ropolon always told me that empty bag cannot stand it may need support for it to stand no matter the kind support it needs one. Regards all this donor funding going to sierra leone during this trying time this Agricultural scheme will be used as a motivator to our farmers to engage in massive agricultural production to avoid the issue of food shortages during and after these crises.