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Country Briefs

  Sierra Leone

Reference Date: 02-August-2018

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Favourable moisture conditions in 2018 cropping season allow timely planting of rice

  2. Aboveaverage cereal crop production harvested in 2017

  3. Strong economic growth projected in 2018, food price inflation decreasing

  4. Pockets of food insecurity remain

Timely start of 2018 planting season

The timely onset of the rains in late February and early March 2018 allowed for a normal start of the cropping season. Planting of paddy crops, to be harvested from September to December, was completed in July. Rainfed paddy is the major cereal grown in the country. Planting operations for maize, millet and sorghum were completed in July and the harvest will start in October. The cumulative rainfall amounts since February/March resulted in favourable soil moisture conditions for crop growth. Weeding activities are underway in most cropping areas.

Abundant rainfall amounts are also contributing to the recovery of pasture conditions.

Above-average cereal output gathered in 2017

Despite the presence of Fall Armyworm across the country, the 2017 national cereal production was estimated at 1.5 million tonnes, about 20 percent above the previous year’s average level.

Imports account for about 20 percent of the country’s total cereal requirements. Following an above-average harvest, the cereal import requirements are estimated at 356 000 tonnes, with a decrease of 20 percent compared to previous year and 8 percent compared to the average.

Strong economic growth projected in 2018, food price inflation decreasing

Marketing activities have significantly recovered since the effects of the Ebola outbreak (June August 2014) on the national economy (movement restrictions and limited trade flows). According to the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), the economic economy grew at about 5.7 percent in 2017, driven mostly by recovering iron ore production, agriculture and services. Although growth is expected to slow down, at 4.9 percent in 2018, it remains strong due to private and public investments in agriculture and mining.

Field reports indicate that prices of imported commodities are rising due to the liberalization of the exchange rate which led to an overvalued and weakening local currency (around SLL 7 950 per USD in July 2018 compared to around SLL 7 528 per USD a year earlier). However, the year-on-year food inflation was set at 15.14 percent in April 2018, down from the 18.91 percent reported in April 2017 due to a slower currency depreciation and stable aggregate demand.

Pockets of poverty remain

As the economy continues to recover, household livelihoods and incomes are returning to the levels observed prior to the Ebola crisis. However, pockets of poverty still remain. According to the October 2017 “Cadre Harmonisé” analysis, about 12 000 people were estimated to be in need of food assistance from October to December 2017 (last figures available), showing a substantial improvement from about 159 000 a year earlier. This number is expected to increase to 138 000 during the June to August 2018 period if no mitigation actions are taken.

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