FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Sierra Leone, 17 December 2014

FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Sierra Leone, 17 December 2014
Dec 2014

Highlights

  • The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak resulted in a serious shock to the agriculture and food sectors in 2014. The epidemic started spreading when crops were being planted and expanded during the crop maintenance and the critical harvesting period for the staple crops rice, maize and cassava.
  • In Sierra Leone, the aggregate food crop production is estimated at about 2.09 million tonnes, about five percent lower than 2013. Milled rice production, accounting for about 85 percent of the cereal production, is estimated at 770 000 tonnes, about 8 percent below last year. However, the modest decline at the national level masks the significant harvest declines at sub-national levels of up to 17 percent.
  • Cereal import requirements in 2015 are therefore estimated at 300 000 tonnes, slightly up from last year. Rice import requirements account for about 215 000 tonnes of the total.
  • With commercial imports estimated at 285 000 tonnes the uncovered gap is estimated at about 55 000 tonnes for which additional resources and international assistance is required. The significant impact of Ebola on export earnings is expected to have compromised the country’s ability to import more.
  • Border closures, quarantine measures and other restrictions have seriously disrupted marketing of goods including agricultural commodities. Trade activities have declined significantly, particularly in quarantined districts.
  • About 450 000 people, or 7.5 percent of the population, are estimated to be severely food insecure as of December 2014. The impact of EVD accounts for more than a quarter of the food insecure. The number of food insecure is projected to increase to 610 000 by March 2015, 280 000 of which are attributed to EVD. About 76 percent of the Ebola related food insecure individuals live in rural areas. The most food insecure households include food crop producers; fishermen and hunters; and unskilled labourers.
  • The analysis indicates that different type of food assistance will be required. In addition to covering the import gap, cash/voucher transfers where appropriate can assure food access for people whose main livelihood is not agriculture. Given reductions in trader activity, local purchase in surplus areas can assure that surpluses are being redistributed.
  • Frequent food security monitoring activities must continue as the situation is highly fragile and could further flare up at any time. The loss of livelihoods coupled with this market uncertainties means that there is a need for flexibility both in the type and scale of intervention that will be needed in 2015.