July 29, 2015
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) on Monday (27 July) signed a US$294,000 (two-hundred and ninety-four thousand United States dollars) project titled: “Support to estimation of demographic and production parameters in the livestock population in Sierra Leone”.
The aim of the survey is to produce data that will be used to estimate demographic parameters and collect detailed information on livestock population category, including age, sex and related demographics.
Signing the project document, Minister of Agriculture Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay applauded FAO for their usual support to the country’s agriculture development, and described the livestock assessment project as a correct step for a better planning and implementation of development programs in the livestock sector.
He stated that livestock production is one of the easiest and sustainable means of poverty alleviation among farmers, as a farmer that rears small ruminants even at backyard level could be better-off than a crop farmer.
Dr. Sesay however noted that the country’s livestock sector faces enormous challenges, including human resource capacity, as Sierra Leone can only boast of five veterinarians who are due for retirement. He appealed for subsequent support to improve the human resource capacity of the sector.
FAO Representative Dr. Gabriel Rugalema stated that livestock rearing has a huge potential to boast the income of small scale farmers and in turn contribute to a country’s economic growth, consistent with its employment and income generation benefit.
He encouraged government to intensify support and build partnership for development of the livestock industry, especially by improving facilities, including laboratory and veterinary services across the country.
Sierra Leone at present lacks any statistical data on livestock production, which makes it very difficult for planning livestock development programmes. The last livestock survey was conducted in 1979 and there have since been only estimated figures from different sources, none of which is reliable.
The project is expected to generate policy recommendations based on the data that will be collected from seven out of thirteen districts in the country, while the report prepared at the end of the survey will, after validation, serve as a baseline for the development of all future livestock development programmes.