Smallholder farmers improve and diversify their food production in Sierra Leone

The World Food Programme and its partners work with thousands of vulnerable smallholder farmers to improve and diversify their food production.

Since the start of Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative in 2009, WFP and its partners have worked with 1,600 smallholder farmers to strengthen their production and create opportunities for them to sell their products.img_20160525_134157

P4P in Sierra Leone has transformed the lives of smallholder farmers as they required new skills in agribusiness and post-harvest management, value addition and marketing.

Being part of the programme also enable farmers to secure loans from financial institutions more easily. Income from bulk sales is not only enabling farmers to support their families but also to expand or diversify their production.

The Japanese Bilateral Project (JBP) – known as “Community-based sustainable food security of smallholder rice producer farmers in target countries of West Africa in recovery and development phase” – is an initiative implemented in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

IMG_20160524_170941.jpgIn Sierra Leone, WFP has partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) and non-governmental organizations to implement the project. 450 farming households, about 2,250 people, in the Port Loko district are part of the project.

Through JBP, farmers received improved rice seeds, tools and technical support for better irrigation so that they can rehabilitate 100 hectares of swampland.

Since 2014, the rice yields of farmers participating in the project increased from 1 metric ton of rice per hectare to almost 3 metric tons per hectare.

WFP and its partners have recently brought representatives from thirty seven P4P supported farmer groups and eight farmers from JBP together to share experiences and best practices on identification of viable seeds, land selection and preparation, transplanting and use of fertilizers. The training sessions created a greater collaboration and increased dialogue between all involved.

“It opens up a whole new world of opportunities to learn what you have not been doing right and what can be done better,”

said Isata Sesay, chairlady of Takeleneh Farmers’ Association.

The District Agriculture Officer for Tonkolili region, John Larkoh described P4P as “a dream come true” adding that P4P has not only inspired confidence in the farmers to produce more but also of better quality.

“Tonnage of rice sold to WFP through P4P has not only increased, but inputs from WFP in the form of milling machines, de-stoning machines, power tillers, stitching machines, bags, grants, and links with supply-side partners have helped to keep production costs down,”

said Haja Sondu Marah from the Koinadugu Women’s Vegetable Farmers’ Cooperative.

Story by: Francis Boima, WFP Sierra Leone; Photos: WFP/Akinyemi Scott-Boyle

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