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Country Briefs

  Sierra Leone

Reference Date: 07-February-2018


  1. Aboveaverage cereal crop harvested in 2017

  2. Prices have generally been stable or declining since August 2017

  3. Pockets of food insecurity remain with about 12 000 people in need of assistance

Above-average harvest gathered in 2017

Harvesting of the 2017 rice crop, virtually the only cereal grown in the country, was completed in December 2017. Yields benefited from abundant rainfall. Despite the presence of Fall Armyworm across the country, cereal production is estimated at well above average 1.5 million tonnes, including 1.4 million tonnes (over 90 percent) of rice.

Abundant rainfall contributed to the recovery of pasture conditions. However, with 60 percent of the cattle and small ruminant population being concentrated in limited area, high stock density with limited possibility to supplement grazing with other sources of feed presents a challenge for pastoralists. Some 8 000 square km of land (about 10 percent of the total area) are reported to be overgrazed.

Below-average import requirement

Although the country’s dependency on imported rice has been decreasing in recent years, it remains a net importer, with a cereal import dependency ratio of about 20 percent. Following an above-average harvest, the cereal import requirement is estimated at a slightly below average level.

Food situation continues to improve

The economy grew at an estimated 5 percent in 2017 as iron ore prices recovered, up from a 20 percent contraction recorded in 2015. However, most economic activities continue to be negatively affected by the lingering effects of the Ebola virus outbreak of 2014 and the collapse of iron ore prices in 2016. More than 60 percent of the population lives on less than USD 1.25 per day. Subsistence agriculture accounts for about half the GDP and employs 60 percent of the total workforce.

Following the above-average harvest, cereal prices have been generally stable or declining since August 2017, but remain above their levels of one year ago, supported by the currency devaluation. The local currency depreciated from SLL 4 500 per USD in 2014 to SLL 7 400 per USD in 2017. In 2017, the annual food price inflation ranged from 18 to 22 percent, affecting the purchasing power of the most vulnerable households.

Despite the above-average harvest, pockets of food insecurity remain in some parts of the country. According to the latest “Cadre Harmonisé” (Harmonized Framework) analysis, between October and December 2017, almost 12 000 people (out of 7.4 million inhabitants) are estimated to be in Phase 3: “Crisis” and above, showing a substantial improvement from about 159 000 people a year earlier.

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