In the second of a series of public-private dialogues focusing on agriculture, policymakers and influential private-sector voices from the poultry sector, identified solutions that could substantially boost productivity and competitiveness for businesses and improve food security. These included a review of the sector to ensure data-driven policy making and supporting maize farmers to increase production of feed.
Currently, the market is dominated by cheap imported eggs and chicken, with local production accounting for only 20% of the 200 million eggs consumed in Sierra Leone annually. The local poultry sector has been unable to compete, and at the first agri-sector dialogue in April the high cost of imported feed was identified as a key barrier. This public-private dialogue was convened in response to develop a strategy for poultry feed production in Sierra Leone.
It was facilitated by the UK Government private sector development initiative Invest Salone and was attended by 22 poultry companies, academics from Limkokwing University and key policymakers from the Ministry of Agriculture.
Although participants agreed that working with farmers to increase the production of maize was key, Daniel Durastanti, Project Manager at Social Business Development Lion Poultry highlighted the need to provide agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilisers, machinery and know-how, adding: “Importantly, most farmers are not aware that growing maize is a great business opportunity.” All of these factors can be overcome, he said, pointing to the work of SBD Lion Poultry, which has nurtured both maize production and poultry companies, providing support and training to over 350 arable farmers leading to 400 hectares of maize under cultivation. Their work on training livestock farmers in poultry raising has similarly built capacity and created direct employment for 50 farmers.
Francis Fatalay Sesay, representing the Pig and Poultry Farmers Association said “One solution which can hopefully be actioned in the next two years will be to allow pig and poultry farmers access to an agricultural financing fund at the Bank of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Agriculture.”
“A key part of the solution is communication,” said the Director of the Department of Livestock at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), Dr. Mohamed Alpha Bah. “The Ministry needs to keep speaking to farmers and farmers should make it a duty to meet with MAF with relevant information on production, for increased extension support. Producers also need to talk to each other. Information on financial institutions who can provide much-needed capital, academic researchers who can provide crucial data and new approaches are all essential parts of the ongoing conversation.”
Recommendations from the meeting include:
- Conduct a review of the sector, to aid decision makers in developing evidence-based policies.
- Ministry of Agriculture to hold quarterly meetings with the poultry sector.
- Pig and Poultry Farmers Association to conduct research on the demand for maize and publish the findings.
- Use aggregated purchasing of maize to solve supply issues and work with maize farmers to improve yields.
- Invest Salone to provide technical support to the Pig and Poultry Association.
- Engage the Bank of Sierra Leone, through the Ministry of Agriculture, on accessing the Agricultural Financing Fund for smallholder agribusinesses.