By Abubakarr Harding
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Freetown will today 18th November 2022 end a four-day workshop on sustainable agri-food systems in Freetown which commenced in Freetown on 15th November 2022.
Worthy of note is that the Agri-Food System Transformation Initiative is an initiative developed out of a partnership between the Government of Sierra Leone, FAO, European Union (EU), and Agri-Food System stakeholders, with the objective of improving the planning, design, investment and accountable delivery of interventions for sustainable and inclusive agri-food systems’ transformation of the country.
In her presentation on ensuring food and nutrition security and safe food for all in Sierra Leone, Dr. Martha Williams said that about 81% of Sierra Leoneans are food insecure while the food consumption rate is about 27%
She highlighted that the major challenges to food insecurity in Sierra Leone include low food consumption and dependency on food import, food affordability due to hikes in the prices of the staple food, and food accessibility due to high cost of transportation, low storage, and low food processing and preservation technique.
Dr Williams also dilated on the consumption patterns, food culture and taboo in Sierra Leone, noting that there is low dietary diversity or food diet, inadequate food intake, low nutrition education, poor feeding practices and behaviour, and intra household food distribution in Sierra Leone.
“Only 4.9% of children in Sierra Leone meet minimum acceptable diet and only 4.9% of Sierra Leone is consuming animal source food,” she pointed out.
She stated that rising in food import dependency is making Sierra Leone vulnerable to global shocks and resulting in low foreign exchange, mentioning that there is huge food wastages in both quality and quantity leading to unavailability of food and nutrition.
She added that low dietary diversity leads to increase sickness, reduced productivity, reduced learning ability in children, and reduced quality of life and life expectancy, pointing out that there is low nutrition education which has also led to increased risk of illness and malnutrition impacting the productivity of the labor force and rising health cost.
The first day of the workshop was climaxed with participants coming up with challenges with food insecurity in Sierra Leone.