what you are supporting: growing at the grassroots project
One Sky believes that the environment knows no borders and that we must
work in partnerships to improve sustainable living globally. We are working
in partnership with the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone, a locally
run non-profit organization. Together we are working on a CIDA-sponsored
project entitled “Growing at the Grassroots”.
“Enough food for all Sierra Leoneans by 2007”
– From Sierra Leone Government’s Vision for Sierra Leone.
After over ten years of rebel war, Sierra Leoneans are working hard to
rebuild their lives and livelihoods. The displacement of millions of people,
insecurity from the war and the destruction of harvest facilities and
rural infrastructure has created greater poverty and malnutrition, and
a dependence on food aid. Sierra Leone has consistently been placed last
on the United Nation’s Human Development Index, before and after
the war (177th out of 177 nations). Agriculture, traditionally practiced
by over two-thirds of the population, is a particularly important priority
in the post-war rebuilding process. Regenerating the agricultural sector
as well as ensuring food security are essential ingredients to maintaining
peace in the fragile post-conflict environment.
With Sierra Leone moving from relief aid to development, more refugees
and internally displaced peoples (IDPs) are expected to meet their own
needs. There is intense pressure to produce local food and become self-sufficient.
The Sierra Leone Government currently has the vision of “Enough
food for Sierra Leoneans by 2007” and has launched its own agriculture
programs. In addition, families, particularly women, are keen to quit
searching for diamonds and start farming the land.
The goal of Growing at the Grassroots is to support organic agriculture
as a viable, sustainable livelihood in Kono through a cooperative approach,
and thereby increase food security for rural people. We are working with
four farmers groups, primarily women, providing training and inputs for
organic agriculture. The project will coordinate the groups into a co-operative
which will provide a sustainable business model based on collaboration.
Most farmers in Sierra Leone are subsistence and have no equity or savings
to purchase needed inputs. This approach is effective as increased cooperation
will facilitate increased access to markets and promote the sharing of
ideas and techniques that individual groups are piloting. To further promote
agriculture as a sustainable livelihood and to address the environmental
impacts of mining and slash and burn agriculture, abandoned diamond mining
sites will be restored for agricultural use through active community participation.
Lastly, this project will include environmental education and awareness
programs to try to mitigate the future impact of mining on valuable agricultural
lands and freshwater, and improve conservation in Kono.