Although 75% of its territory is arable land, Sierra Leone has currently only 20% under cultivation.
Sierra Leone is at the bottom of the list of food-producing countries. This unenviable position makes the country – and therefore its population – highly dependent on imports of basic commodities.
The civil war, which started, in 1991, caused widespread damage to local infrastructure and a brain drain. Sierra Leone is now one of the poorest countries in the world. Fortunately, since the end of the war in 2002, the country is back on the road to genuine economic growth.
Palm oil is a traditional crop in Sierra Leone. Average monthly consumption of crude palm oil is one kilo per person!
It is mainly produced by smallholders using traditional methods. The smallholdings severely lack the technical skills and are unable to meet local demand. The figures speak for themselves: no less than 50% of oil consumed on the local market is imported.
Moreover, the oil deficit will most likely get worse, particularly because of the following factors:
- job creation through investments;
- the country’s population growth
In 2011, eager to modernize agriculture and meet local vegetable oil demand, the government turned to various agro-industrial companies. Nonetheless, the lack of skilled workers and poor road infrastructure impeded the achievement of the set objectives. Moreover, only very few agro-industrial companies operate nationally.
To address this situation, an investment policy was recently implemented to attract foreign investors to Sierra Leone.