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Sierra Leone Agriculture and Fishing Overview
Under normal circumstances, agriculture feeds two-thirds of the population. Most grow mainly for their own use. Rice, corn, cassava and vegetables are the most important base crops. Large parts of agriculture were eliminated during the war. In the east, production of the crops grown for sale, such as coffee, cocoa and oil palm products, affected in the north, rice cultivation decreased. Almost all the inhabitants of the countryside became dependent on food aid for their survival.
After the war, agriculture gained a boost. One explanation for the rapid recovery was that the state distributed large quantities of seeds, tools and fertilizers to the farmers. Rice production was accelerated by the spread of a refined rice plant that gives greater harvest in a shorter time. Rice cultivation is one of the activities that is exempt from the VAT introduced in 2009. Still, almost a third of the rice consumed in the country is imported. The traditionally generating cocoa production managed to generate an economic surplus only in 2011.
However, the 2014 Ebola outbreak posed new problems for agriculture, as many farmers died of the virus or could not get help with the harvest due to travel bans and quarantine regulations. At the same time, it became impossible to get hold of seeds and fertilizers. Many farms were simply abandoned.
No major cultivation for commercial use has occurred since the war, although cocoa and coffee cultivation has increased in recent years. However, the government is trying to attract foreign investors to invest in commercial projects. In 2011, a biofuel project was approved. In an area equivalent to about 10 percent of the country's cultivable area, the Swiss company Addax has built a sugarcane plantation, an ethanol refinery and a biomass power plant. Bioethanol from the sugar cane is exported to Europe and the power plant operates the refinery and is also expected to account for up to 20 percent of Sierra Leone's electricity supply. Production started in 2014 and is expected to reach full capacity in 2016, but the project has received harsh criticism for threatening the food supply of the local population because it uses land where local farmers could instead grow food. The French company Socofin has been in conflict with the locals since being granted permission to start palm oil and rubber crops in southern Sierra Leone in 2011 and the project has been delayed. In 2013, Sierra Leone signed an agreement on rubber and rice cultivation with the Chinese company Hainan. All projects have been affected by the Ebola crisis.
In 2008, Sierra Leone banned timber exports, as Chinese and other foreign companies, according to the government, plundered the country's forests. The rapid deforestation in the northern part of the country was said to have caused major problems with soil degradation. Extensive new forest planting was started in the 2010s.
Fishing has increased rapidly after the war, mainly that which is done with traditional methods. Nevertheless, the total catch has almost doubled during the 2000s. However, a major drawback for the fishing industry is the illegal predatory operation of foreign vessels, which is believed to have wiped out entire populations of fish species and is estimated to deprive the state of about $ 30 million a year in lost income. However, the government has invested in increased surveillance of the coast.
FACTS - AGRICULTURE
Agriculture's share of GDP
60.3 percent (2017)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
54.7 percent (2016)
Christmas celebrations are prohibited
Christians, however, may attend services during the Christmas holidays but are then requested to return home. Soldiers should patrol the streets to make sure people stay indoors. Healthcare professionals will knock a door in Freetown to try to discover new cases. The government also decides to impose restrictions on travel between districts and for certain trade.
Quarry town in quarantine
In the middle of the month, the government decides to introduce a two-week quarantine around the city of Kono in the diamond district in the country's east. It happens since it was discovered that at least a hundred people died in Ebola. President Koroma urges local leaders to refrain from traditional burial rites, where the mourners will touch the dead, which has led to the spread of the infection.
The Ebola epidemic beats the economy
The World Bank estimates that economic growth, which was just over 11 per cent before the crisis, will end in minus 2015.
A crisis fund is created
Behind the initiative are several leading African businessmen. They aim to raise over $ 28 million to fight the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. At the end of the month, the government appeals to the United States to send soldiers to assist in the fight against Ebola.
Food shortage in Ebola affected areas
At the same time, reports that people in quarantined areas will be forced to break the rules and leave their homes to search for food. The United Nations Food Program WFP says it provided about 450,000 people with food in October, but that it is difficult to reach everyone because of rough roads.
Intervention against media
A Sierra Leonean journalist, David Tam-Baryoh, is imprisoned on orders by the president with the help of the exceptional laws passed to fight Ebola. It is unclear what he is accused of but it is speculated that it is statements about the arrests in the city of Koidu that Tam-Baryoh should have made in his radio show Monologue. The arrest is condemned by the Sierra Leonean journalist union.
There is no money to fight Ebola
During the second half of the month, new equipment begins to arrive in the country. The United Nations Food Program WFP is also starting to assist people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia with supplies. However, the UN has only received $ 250 million of the billion dollars it has said is needed to fight the disease. In October, a Cuban team of 165 people will arrive to help fight Ebola. Data from the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) group indicate that the number of Ebola cases is increasing rapidly in Sierra Leone. More and more illness cases are reported from Freetown. At the same time, AGI points out that the funeral routines have been tightened. Until the end of October, 1,510 deaths in Ebola have been reported according to WHO. Among the victims are hundreds of medical staff, including five doctors. In the whole country there are just over 100 doctors.
Protests in the wake of the Ebola
Concerns erupt in the middle of the month in a densely populated area in Freetown, where residents worry that it will take so long before authorities remove corpses after people they fear have died of Ebola. This leads to clashes between residents and security forces.
Kravaller later breaks out in the city of Koidu in the Kono District to the east, where young people clash with police. The unrest should have started when a former youth leader in the APC (in some domestic media he is described as a "well-known gangster") refused to allow the police to bring a 90-year-old relative to the Ebola test. The authorities decide to impose curfew in Koidu.
Three days curfew is introduced
In early September, all Sierra Leone residents are ordered not to leave their homes from September 19 and three days ahead in an effort to stem the Ebola epidemic. Representatives of the relief organization Doctors Without Borders question the measure and fear that it will instead lead to people hiding that they have become ill.
According to the authorities, the curfew is a success, but it should not be extended. In the meantime, 30,000 volunteers have traveled to affected areas to find infected and provide soaps to the population. Over 100 new cases of the disease have been discovered and over 100 people believed to have died as a result of Ebola have been buried. Hundreds of people must have contacted healthcare institutions because they fear they have been infected.
At the end of the month, the authorities decide that a further three districts, Port Loko, Bombali and Moyamba, will be quarantined. This means that only persons carrying out the most necessary tasks may travel to and from these areas.
By the end of September, nearly 3,000 people had been infected and over 900 people had died in Ebola in Sierra Leone, according to WHO figures. Many people also die in other diseases because they cannot get care or manage to go to health care facilities.
Criticism against Western countries
It is about nothing more being done to help fight the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Now France promises to send 20 emergency medicine experts to Guinea. They are to have their base in Guinea, but the work applies to several of the affected countries and the measures must be coordinated with local authorities. The WHO says it needs $ 600 million to effectively stop the epidemic. Later, the US, EU and UK promise new support.
Healthcare personnel strike
At the end of the month, staff at a treatment center in Kenema are launching a strike in protest of not being paid their salaries and the lack of protective equipment, among other things. Until then, about twenty caregivers have died after being infected by Ebola. By the end of August, more than 400 people have died of the disease in Sierra Leone and over a thousand people have been infected.
Military is deployed in the fight against Ebola
Together with Guinea and Liberia, Sierra Leone decides to isolate the regions where the infection is particularly widespread. The military and police are to guard the barricades. The treatment units located in these areas will receive extra money.
The World Bank allocates up to $ 200 million to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to help fight Ebola.
The government sends soldiers to guard Ebola sick at the clinics so that they are not brought home by relatives who distrust the health care institutions and believe that the infection was caused by foreign forces who want to harm the country's residents.
Abubakarr Fofana is appointed new Minister of Health after his representative was dismissed after criticizing how she handled the Ebola epidemic.
New measures against the spread of infection
The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for a crisis meeting in Ghana for several countries in the region to agree on measures to prevent the spread of Ebola. The government announces that it is a criminal offense to conceal that someone has been infected by Ebola. However, there is a lack of money for new health care interventions. The President, the Vice President and all members of the Cabinet say that they should contribute by donating half their salary to the fight against the disease. Nothing is said about how large sums it is.
An emergency permit is introduced as a step in the fight against the disease. General meetings are prohibited, except for those relating to Ebola and in areas where the infection ravages at its worst, the houses must be searched in order to find and isolate victims. The death toll at the end of July is 233. The disease has now reached Freetown.
Ebola epidemic breaks out
To prevent further contagion, Sierra Leone is closing its borders to Guinea and Liberia, which have also been affected. Schools and cinemas are also closed in the affected region. 49 people are reported to have died of Ebola.
Undaf takes over
The UN says that its mission in Sierra Leone will be transformed again. In the future, the political part of the mission will be reduced to concentrate on developing the country instead. At the end of the month, UN peace-making UN Commission Unipsil will be replaced by UN Development Assistance Framework.
According to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, the peacekeeping efforts in Sierra Leone are among the most successful.