14 November 2010, Kenema - Women farmers carrying bundles of harvested rice to be threshed. FAO is supporting the Government of Sierra Leone in its efforts to boost the productivity of smallholder farmers and to improve their access to agricultural support services and rural markets. Funds, including 10 million from the European Union, are being used to build and equip a network of agricultural business centres (ABCs) throughout the country, and to strengthen existing farmer-based organisations so they can operate these centres on a cost-recovery basis. The ABCs provide a range of services including the sale of seeds and fertilizers and the rental or loan of labour-saving equipment as well as technical support to help farmers minimise post-harvest losses and to process and market their goods more effectively.
These efforts are contributing to the Government's Smallholder Commercialisation Programme (SCP), a five-year programme that seeks to spark economic growth through agricultural and rural development and to help farmers move beyond subsistence farming. The SCP is part of Sierra Leone's National Sustainable Agriculture Development Plan (NSADP), which is the basis for the country's 20-year Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Compact. The SCP was also the basis for the country's successful bid for USD 50 million in funding from the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP).