National Cereal Production Increased by 16% - FAO - Salone Mirror News

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

National Cereal Production Increased by 16% - FAO

Despite the erratic rainfall at the beginning of the season and Fall Armyworm infestation in Sierra Leone, the 2018 national cereal production is estimated at 1.5 million tonnes, about 16 percent above the five-year average, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The FAO Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture (GIEWS) Country Brief: May 20, 2019, shows that imports account for about 20 percent of the country’s total cereal requirements.

FAO said following the above-average harvest in 2018, the cereal import requirements for 2018/19 (November/October) are estimated at 330 000 tonnes, about 15 percent below the average. 

“Increasing economic growth and decreasing food price inflation projected in 2019,” the FAO said.

“According to the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), the economy is expected to grow by about 4.4 percent in 2019, up from an estimated 3 percent in 2018. This growth is supported mostly by strong private and public investments in mining, agriculture and service sectors. However, it is expected that the local currency will weaken from SLL 7 931 per USD in 2018 to about SLL 8 500 per USD in 2019 as a result of large trade deficits, which is maintaining a downward pressure on the exchange rate,” the UN Agency said.

He added that despite the depreciation of the local currency, the year-on-year food inflation is expected to fall from 16.9 percent in 2018 to 15.2 percent in 2019, mainly as a result of the reduction in domestic fuel prices which was decided by the Government in response to the public unrest in January 2019.

Pockets of poverty remain in the country

The FAO said, “Despite the overall favourable food security conditions, some vulnerable households still need external food assistance. According to the March 2019 ‘Cadre Harmonis√©’ analysis, about 67,000 people are estimated to be in need of food assistance from March to May 2019. “This number is expected to increase to 124 000 during the June to August 2019 period, if no mitigation actions are taken.”

According to FAO, following a timely onset of seasonal rains, planting of paddy rice, to be harvested from September, started in April 2019, noting that rainfed paddy is the major cereal grown in the country. “Planting operations for maize, millet and sorghum are ongoing and the harvests are expected to start in August. The cumulative rainfall amounts since February/March is supporting favourable soil moisture conditions for crop growth and development. This is also contributing to the recovery of pasture conditions across the country. Weeding activities are underway in most cropping areas. Above-average cereal output gathered in 2018,” it said.

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