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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.

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