FAO/GIEWS: Africa Report 02/97

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SIERRA LEONE

Area:

72 000 sq.km

Climate:

Mostly tropical wet-dry; extreme south tropical wet; one rainy season: March-October

Population:

4.62 million (1996 estimate) with more than 160 000 Sierra Leoneon refugees located in

neighbouring countries; G.N.P. per caput: U.S.$ 140 (1993)


Specific characteristics of the country:

Low-income food-deficit country; coastal country

Logistics:

Roads inadequate

Major foodcrops:

Rice, roots and tubers

Marketing year:

January/December; Lean season: July-August

Share of cereals in total calorie intake:

57 percent



CURRENT SITUATION

An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission visited Sierra Leone from 27 November to 9 December 1996 to estimate the production of 1995 and 1996, and the national food requirements for 1997. The Mission found that agricultural production like all other productive sectors of the economy, had been badly affected by the war which started in the Southern and Eastern parts of the country in 1991 and spread to the rest of the country by the end of 1994, becoming most devastating in 1995. The war caused large-scale displacement of farmers, thereby cutting off large portions of land from production. Apart from being displaced, many farmers, particularly those in areas which were under frequent attacks, also lost their seeds, tools, on-farm storage facilities and other productive assets to the extent that even those returning from the displacement camps have not been able to resume normal production without help from relief agencies and NGOs. It is estimated that about 180 000 farm families were directly affected by the conflict. As a result, agricultural production has drastically dropped throughout the country in the last five years.

The Mission reckoned that the worst year was 1995, when production of paddy is estimated at 355 500 tons, some 27 percent below the 1993 level. The Mission estimated that food production for 1996 will be an improvement over the previous year, with paddy production forecast at about 391 000 tons, 10 percent above last year. Production of root crops is also projected to increase to an estimated 328 000 tons, 7 percent above that of last year. The Mission estimated that the total area planted to rice in 1996 reached some 289 200 hectares, 5 percent larger than in the previous year.

With this production, and considering no change in the level of stocks, the cereal import requirement for 1997 is estimated at 260 000 tons and the food aid requirement at 80 000 tons. Cereal food aid requirements to support resettlement/rehabilitation activities implemented by WFP and CRS have been estimated at 60 500 tons for 1997. The signing of the peace agreement on 30 November marked a new era which should see even greater improvement in agricultural production if the peace settlement is given the opportunity to take root. The Mission observed significant improvement in the overall farming situation with much enthusiasm displayed by farmers and the IDPs returning for resettlement in their villages.

CEREAL SUPPLY/DEMAND BALANCE FOR THE 1997 MARKETING YEAR (in thousand tons)

Wheat

Rice

Coarse grains

Total

Normal Production (rice in paddy terms)

-

390

57

447

Normal Imports

60

110

15

185

of which: Structural food aid

30

10

15

55

1997 Domestic Availability

-

236

53

289

1996 Production (rice in paddy terms)

-

391

53

444

1996 Production (rice in milled terms)

-

235

53

288

Possible stock drawdown

-

1

-

1

1997 Utilization

100

366

83

549

Food Use

93

356

71

520

of which: local purchase requirement

-

-

-

-

Non-food use

1

10

12

23

Exports or Re-exports

-

-

-

-

Possible stock build up

6

-

-

6

1997 Import Requirement

100

130

30

260

Anticipated commercial imports

60

120

-

180

Food aid needs

40

10

30

80

Current Aid Position





Food aid pledges

17

12

3

32

of which: Delivered

-

-

-

-

Estimated Per Caput Consumption (kg/Year)

20

77

15

112

Indexes





1996 production as % of normal:




99

1997 import requirement as % of normal:




141

1997 food aid requirement as % of normal:




145


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