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Sierra Leone: Agribusiness project to benefit 50 000 farmers

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The Government of Sierra Leone, the World Bank and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) intend to better link farmers to agribusinesses. They signed a USD 55 million project to support smallholder commercialisation and agribusiness development. Under the five-year credit agreement and in line with the government’s Agenda for Prosperity, the project aims to benefit some 50 000 smallholder farmers, including 40% women and young farmers. A particular focused is placed on helping farmers recovering from the effects of Ebola. “There is an urgent need to strengthen post-Ebola growth prospects by investing in key sectors such as agriculture, and this project will support Government’s efforts in this area”, said Parminder Brar, World Bank Country Manager for Sierra Leone. The disease killed almost 4 000 people in Sierra Leone. The epidemic had a strong negative impact on the country’s agricultural production. According to government sources, about 47% of all agricultural activities were disrupted in 2014. Under the 2015-17 National Ebola Recovery Strategy, the government intends to: 1) provide inputs and other farming support to at least 100 000 farm families; 2) improve the processing and marketing capacity of at least 100 agricultural business centres; 3) re-establish community grain reserves at all agricultural business centres and 4) re-open all agriculture-related periodic markets.