We are a non-profit organisation and need your donation! More...
Your donation counts!
We are a non-profit organisation and need your donation! More...
Freetown (Sierra Leone)
Submitted by Femke Hoekstra on Fri, 11/19/2010 - 11:36
Date of RUAF intervention: 2005-ongoing
INTRODUCTION: CITY CONTEXT
The most commonly cultivated crops are exotic vegetables (cabbage, lettuce, carrots, spring onions, tomatoes, beans, etc.) and local vegetable (potato leaves, spinach, cassava leaves, etc.) and different sorts of fruits. These are consumed on a daily basis and as perishables, cannot withstand long-haul transportation. They are usually harvested and sold at the market on the same day. Poultry (mainly free ranging) and pigs are the main types of animals raised. Processing and marketing are marginal activities, but these are also growing and are stimulated under present agricultural policies. Most urban producers sell large part of their produce in order to generate a basic income. Urban and peri-urban agriculture contributes substantially to the local economic development of Freetown and the country as a whole. In the situation analysis undertaken in 2007, it was estimated that urban agriculture provides full or part-time employment to over 1,800 people in urban Freetown. Women constitute approximately 80 per cent of the urban producers and they also do most of the marketing. Men provide assistance mainly in the preparation of land, such as initial land clearing, building the irrigation channels in the swampy areas, and supplying the money needed to buy inputs. A significant proportion of male urban producers are also engaged in other activities, such as working in the civil service or the artisan sector. A portion of the income generated from these other livelihood activities is often re-invested in the agricultural activities.
Urban agriculture is situated in private (e.g. residential) and public or institutional lands, often with complex land tenure arrangements. Most institutional lands are leased, while private and public open space lands are seasonally rented. Land is a primary constraint, agricultural land use being in competition with housing, commercial and industrial land uses. Use of external inputs, like fertilisers, is generally low, and animal manure (from piggeries and poultry units) is mainly applied. Rainwater, streams, pipe borne water, household wastewater and groundwater are common sources of water in crop and livestock activities. Apart from rainwater, most water sources are contaminated and polluted through human and animal excreta, as well as domestic and industrial effluents. A number of institutions, such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS), the National Association of Farmers of Sierra Leone (NAFSL) and Freetown City Council (FCC) provide agricultural extension services (mainly on crops) to farmers. Almost all urban farmers belong to a farmers’ association or a community-based organisations, except those individuals who farm the backyards of their homes.
Next to land, another major constraint is pests and diseases. Thieves are also a problem. Further, the high price of seeds, shortage of water, animal feed, are constraints to urban farming. These constraints are less important as we move from the centre to the periphery of GFA, while marketing becomes more of a constraint for farmers located further away from the centre. Urban farmers in Freetown are often in competition with importers of vegetables and animal products hence they require capacity strengthening in critical aspects of urban agricultural production and marketing.
In 2006, RUAF partner IWMI launched the ‘Freetown Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture Project’ (FUPAP) in Freetown, Sierra Leone, with the goal to support city authorities in recognising the benefits of urban agriculture, while addressing its challenges in order to contribute to urban poverty reduction, food security and improved urban environmental management. The multi-faceted nature of urban and peri-urban agriculture in Freetown, and the many ongoing activities which are not inter-linked, called for a multi-stakeholder intervention.
The MPAP approach brought together major stakeholders in urban agriculture for joint situation analysis, decision-making, planning and implementation of related projects in Freetown. The FUPAP core team was constituted in 2006. MAFFS chaired FUPAP, and additional facilitation was provided by Njala University. Other institutions that participated in the FUPAP multi-stakeholder team were: FCC, NAFSL, the Department for Environmental health, the Commission for Environment and Forestry, Western Area (Rural) Council, Waterloo, LEXES, Care, World Vision and Ministry of Lands and Country Planning. Although initially part of the MPAP training, most NGOs did not participate actively in the MPAP process because they were more active in the rural provinces. Several of them joined FUPAP later again, when government and international donor attention for the process and urban agriculture grew.
The CSA was agreed by the MSF at a meeting in November 2008, and formally endorsed by the Deputy Mayor of Freetown in April 2009.
Currently the two interlinked priorities for FUPAP are mapping and allocation of land for urban and peri urban agriculture and access to credit and finance by urban and peri urban farmers.
The EU supported preparation of a new Freetown Master Development Plan paves the way for negotiating solutions to long standing constraints to urban farmers, like enhanced access to land and more security of land use, prevention of land, water and soil pollution by other urban uses and enabling the use of urban organic wastes as fertiliser in agriculture. Similarly the move from the Ministry of Lands from a contract based to a title based land tenure system in Western Area (GFA) opens opportunities to identify, protect and allocate to farmers suitable land, starting with low land and valleys which are Government owned.
The mapping of vacant urban spaces suitable for urban agriculture that was undertaken by FUPAP in Freetown as part of the situation analysis is currently expanded to the Western Area and linked to the current GIS land mapping undertaken by the Ministry of Land, which provides an opportunity to address the issue of integration of urban agriculture in the urban land zoning and the legal protection of urban agriculture sites.
FUPAP is engaged in brokering an agreement between Ministry of Lands, Ministry of Agriculture and the two local authorities so that land can be identified and ear marked by the Ministry of Lands and allocated by Local Authorities to groups registered with the Ministry of Agriculture through long term users' agreements.
This will in turn give farmers groups a collateral which would be accepted by cooperating credit inistutions. In a comprhensive study of urban and peri urban farmers' credit and financing needs and opportuinities, FUPAP surveyed the different categories of freetown farmers, fishermen, processors and marketers and engaged over 15 credit and financing institutions. From this reflection a lobbying strategy is now being implemented looking at focusing the efforts of insitutional funders on promising groups while piloting new tailored credit products with selected micro finance and banking institutions.
Finally, FUPAP is taking the lead in supporting other cities in Sierra Leone to develop similar programs. An agreement has been signed for training and exchanges with (peri) urban agriculture and youth employment stakeholders in the city of Makeni in early 2011.
As a consequence of the increased level of funding and attention to urban and peri urban agriculture in Freetown, From Seed to Table activities involve not only on cluster of farmers but currently around 45 groups of farmers and / or youth, involving 1500 families.
The focus is currently on four main innovation projects:
Waterloo Hot Pepper
Five producer groups, of around 125 producers, have agreed to collaborate in the development of their “Waterloo Hot Pepper and Okra” business and have started field schools on improved production pepper production, grinding and sale. Two UPFS cycles have been completed.
Although production faced several challenges in the first two rounds, the newly formed PATCOBAMA business started grinding and packaging hot pepper in October 2010 for sales in the local market, restaurants and canteens.
Salone Juice - Proudly produced in Sierra Leone
One of the groups in the program is Lelima Women’s Group in the popular Kissy eastern area of Freetown, a 30-strong self help women group combining production in peri urban Freetown of food crops and soya beans with basic processing and marketing (fruit juice and soya milk yoghurt for catering). Several products and innovations were considered in the group inventory of options and tested during the market scan. While initially the group was very keen on yoghurt, the process of comparing market demand, prices and possible returns and profits shifted the choice towards bottled fruit juice. The group went through technical training in hygiene, safe food handling, pasteurization and bottling, in addition to organizational strengthening, business management and marketing training. The group set up a basic processing and bottling facility in one dedicated room; they use an adapted non professional blender and recycled sterilized glass bottled (from imported fruit juice) with new screw caps, currently imported from Ghana. Pastorisation is made in a large local pot on screened open fire and the juice is bottled and capped hot. SALONE Mango Juice was test launched in May 2010 as the first locally produced bottled fruit juice in Sierra Leone. A number of testing sessions with customers in bars and restaurants were organized to compare three different mixes and the final recipe was chosen. The group is able to offer the juice commercially at a trade and retail price lower than imported juice.
The launch of the first juice “proudly produced in Sierra Leone” was a real boost to the group and eventually challenges emerged from the success. The market demand is considerably larger than production capacity. The program is now working with a number of youth groups in order to set up up to 5 production areas across the city who will market with the same brand. Fruit waste and losses in Sierra Leone are extremely high due to very short production periods and no conservation technology. The project is now moving into organizing year-round production of juice from several seasonal fruits.
Freetown Vegetable Box Scheme
In January 2010, the project engaged 80 producers from three nearby villages in the hills above Freetown. They are vegetable producers who face huge challenging in marketing produce as they almost all produce the same products at the same time and are victim of a short production season, little production variety and few market outlets.
THe FStT intervention is three-fold. It works with farmers to extend cultivation time and improve crop variety, through interventions in the irrigation system, piloted covered cultivation and technical training. The project also works with farmers to strenghten their organisational and business management capacity through a leraning by doing approach to product development, business planning and management. In May 2010, a pilot vegetable box delievery scheme was launched with only 5 customers to start with. The scheme is currently reaching over 80 customers through weekly deliveries mainly in downtown offices and workplaces.
Representatives of the Freetown Mountain Farmers Association recently travelled to Cape Town to participate in a RUAF organised exchange with farmers and staff involved in the Harvest of Hope organic box scheme promoted by NGO Abalimi, which is currently reaching 230 customers a week.
The Freetown box scheme will be re-branded and re-launched in November 2010 with the aim to expand its customers' base and the number of farmers involved and to strenghten the overall organisation.
Organic Waste Re-use
A fourth large FSTT project is currently under development in collaboration with the Freetown City Council, focusing on youth led organic waste collection and recycling. While in the past the problem with similar schemes has always been a lack of marketing routes for products developed from waste, making economic sustainibility a huge challenge, the current FStT project focuses on an integrated cluster of enterpises which address the organic waste product marketing challenges through a number of uses and product development. The cluster of enterprises under development includes - besides waste collection and composting - high value horticulture, flower and hornamental plants production, bio gas, enterpises coordinated with a cluster of related enterpises in high value orticulture, compost selling, briquette making, piloting of mixed compost and human waste fertilezers products.
Click here to return to the worldmap
Upcoming 5 events