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Sierra Leone Staple Food Market Fundamentals

  • Market Fundamentals
  • Sierra Leone
  • February 2017
Sierra Leone Staple Food Market Fundamentals

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  • Executive Summary

  • Executive Summary
    • This FEWS NET Market Fundamentals report presents findings to inform regular market monitoring and analysis for Sierra Leone. Among other uses, the information presented in this report can be used to support the design of food security programs, including but not limited to informing Bellmon analyses for food assistance programs in Sierra Leone.
    • This study is based on desk research, fieldwork using rapid rural appraisal (RRA) techniques covering all 14 districts of the country, and a three-day stakeholder consultation workshop carried out in Freetown during the month of February 2016.
    • Given FEWS NET’s preexisting knowledge of the important market linkages between Sierra Leone and Guinea, complementary market analyses were carried out by FEWS NET staff in key border crossing areas of Guinea as well. 
    • Sierra Leone made substantial progress toward reducing preexisting structural deficits in staple food production following the decade-long civil war (1990-2002) that destroyed much of the existing agricultural infrastructure and supporting services and institutions. Food availability in Sierra Leone is determined by a combination of local production as well as imports from regional and international markets, although important commodity-specific and geographic differences exist.
    • The two main locally produced staple foods in Sierra Leone are rice and cassava. Locally produced palm oil is an important source of dietary fat and income for smallholder producers. Marine fish are the single most important source of animal protein, followed by poultry (chicken) and ruminant meat. Although consumption of eggs and milk is increasing, especially in urban areas, contributions to aggregate protein consumption remain very low. Locally produced groundnuts, sweet potatoes, and vegetables (peppers) are also important food and incomes sources. Imports of milled rice and edible oil from international markets supplement local production of those commodities. Although Irish potatoes have made their way on to the national agricultural development agenda, the majority of production remains limited to one district (Koinadugu); neither the National Agricultural Statistics Survey nor the Sierra Leone Integrated Household Survey reported on Irish potato production, yields, or consumption patterns.
    • Poor and very poor households throughout Sierra Leone are heavily dependent on markets to meet their staple food needs. The number of months during which households are dependent on market purchases varies by livelihood zone. 
    • Sierra Leone is endowed with enormous potential for agricultural production. Growth in the sector was stunted during the decade-long civil war, but has since recovered considerably. Given the relatively small size of the country, the poor condition of roads linking urban centers of the country does not appear to inhibit the circulation of goods from surplus to deficit areas of Sierra Leone and neighboring countries.
    • This general context has resulted in strong market linkages within Sierra Leone and strong levels of integration of markets in neighboring countries, despite the existence of different currencies (unlike much of the rest of West Africa). In this sense, food availability and access in Sierra Leone are heavily driven by marketing in the broader western marketing basin composed of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Market linkages between Sierra Leone and Guinea are strongest. Furthermore, there appears to be a fair amount of re-exporting of internationally imported milled rice and edible oil via Sierra Leone and into neighboring countries. Market linkages with the Sahel (northeastern Guinea, Senegal, and Mali) are strongest for cattle and small ruminants (import) and palm oil (export).
    • The Ebola outbreak of 2014 and 2015 disrupted markets and local livelihoods, through both the loss of productive household members and restrictions on the movement of goods and people via quarantines and checkpoints within and across districts within Sierra Leone and neighboring countries. The macroeconomic context has varied considerably since 2011, driven largely by variations in iron ore exports and export earnings. However, neither of these shocks appears to have had a substantial or persistent impact on aggregate food availability (local production or incentives to import from international or regional markets) in Sierra Leone.
    • The availability of agricultural commodity storage facilities is very limited in Sierra Leone. The majority of permanent commercial and humanitarian storage facilities are located in Freetown, the country’s largest commercial center and location of the main port for food imports. Rubb halls and shipping containers are used for commodity storage by humanitarian organizations in inland districts. 

    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET

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