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Agriculture is the primary occupation in Sierra Leone


To access the Additional Companies Contact List, please click on the following link:

4.2.8 Sierra Leone Additional Service Provision Contact List

Main Food Suppliers

Agriculture is a major part of the Sierra Leonean economy, with a reported three quarters of the population involved one way or another in agriculture. Before the war, the country had been an exporter of rice, coffee, cacao and palm oil. While some industrial farming did take place in Sierra Leone, most farming still remains semi-subsistence. Rice is the staple food. A combination of food crops, including maize, sorghum, cassava, and beans, are grown in a mixed cropping system. The southern and eastern parts of the country grow a wider combination of crops, while northern areas rely primarily on rice, cassava and millet.

Rice is the most significant cereal in the Leonean diet, of great cultural importance and a major trading commodity. Rice is produced in three ways: 1) as dryland rice in “upland” fields intercropped with other cereals and food crops; 2) as swamp rice in interior swamps (“IVS”); and 3) as broadcast or transplanted flood rice in coastal areas (“mangrove”). Dryland rice production provides the largest share of domestic supply, while swamp and flood rice have the higher yields. Rice production faces considerable constraints to production and marketing.

At present, an estimated 23% of domestic production is marketed. It is reported that producers are selling rice to finance reconstruction costs, with a resulting impact on food consumption levels. As such, imported rice is a significant contributor to rice consumption. At present, Freetown is the major destination of imported rice, and major sink for marketed domestic production. However, the opening-up of rural areas to commercial access has substantially increased the presence of imported rice (and other commodities) in these areas in the later part of 2002, and of local rice and other domestic food products to Freetown. The need for rice imports can be expected to grow in relation to: 1) the population (2 % per year); 2) shifts from the current rice substitutes (bulgur, cassava) to rice as people have more disposable income; and 3) overall disposable income, allowing consumers to shift purchases to more expensive varieties.


Freetown has some ten or more listed hotels with high standards of service and accommodation, some of which are conveniently situated close to the downtown beaches, in particular Lumley Beach. These include the Hotel Bintumani, Cape Sierra Hotel, Family Kingdom Hotel, Sierra Light House Hotel, Kimbima Hotel, Cabenda Hotel and the Country Lodge Complex, Hill Valley Hotel and Masny More. Cheaper accommodation in the capital is also quite varied with a handful of guest houses that offer simple accommodation that is usually reasonably priced and well served. These include the Palace Guest House, Franjia Guest House and Chinatown Guest House. There are plenty of other accommodation facilities catering to a more local trade, and some caution needs to be applied in your choices in this regard.


, employing two-thirds of the labor force and accounting for 50% of GDP. Most Sierra Leoneans live on small, scattered farms, following a scheme of bush-fallow rotation, slash-and-burn field preparation, and limited use of fertilizer. Agricultural exports in 2004 amounted to nearly $13.9 million and consisted of coffee, cocoa, palm kernels, piassava, kola nuts, and ginger. Rice, grown by 80% of farmers, is the most important subsistence crop and, along with millet in the northeast, is a food staple; 265,000 tons were produced in 2004, down from an annual average of 508,000 tons during 1989 to 1991. The Rice Research Institute, located in the Northern Province, breeds high-yielding varieties for seed. Other domestic food crops include cassava, yams, peanuts, corn, pineapples, coconuts, tomatoes, and pepper. Coffee is grown in the eastern and southern provinces; production totaled 18,000 tons in 2004. Cocoa is grown in the Kenema and Kailahun districts of the Eastern Province and in the Pujehun District of the Southern Province, mainly on smallholdings of about 0.4–1.2 hectares (1–3 acres). In 2004, an estimated 11,000 tons of cocoa beans were produced. Palm produce is derived from stands of wild palms, mainly in the northeast and southeast; production in 2004 included 24,375 tons of palm kernels and 39,000 tons of palm oil. Although there is substantial local consumption of palm kernels, they are a major agricultural export. Piassava, a raffia palm fiber used for broom and brush bristles, is grown in the swampy areas of the extreme south. Small amounts of kola nuts were also exported, and modest crops of bananas, pineapples, and sugarcane were grown.

The World Bank estimates that Sierra Leone will lose at least $1.4 billion in economic growth in 2015 as a result of the Ebola outbreak, leading to an "unprecedented" GDP contraction of 23.5 percent. The economic damage has been exacerbated by a sharp decline in global iron ore prices and the collapse of the mining sector amid an exodus of foreign investors. 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 tons, about five percent lower than 2013. Milled rice production, accounting for about 85 percent of the cereal production, is estimated at 770,000 tons, 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 estimated at 300,000 tons, slightly up from last year. Rice import requirements account for about 215,000 tons of the total. With commercial imports estimated at 285,000 tons the uncovered gap is estimated at about 55,000 tons 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.

Sierra Leone faces numerous challenges in its capacity to deliver goods and services. These challenges are found across all productive economic sectors and include human, financial, manufacturing, technological and infrastructural capacities. During and after the civil war, the country’s human resource base dwindled as a result of the migration of highly trained professionals and skilled workers to more lucrative markets, a situation quite glaring in the public sector. A weak national infrastructure (roads, transport, electricity, water and sanitation) also contributes to the limited production of goods and services for the domestic and export markets.

For  more information, please see the following link: 4.10 Sierra Leone Producers, Wholesalers, and Retailers List