“Harvesting of the 2016 paddy crop, virtually the only cereal grown in the country, is underway and is scheduled to be completed by the end of December. According to satellite imagery, rains and soil moisture have been generally favourable in most regions since the beginning of the cropping season, allowing the satisfactory development of crops”.
FAO said rice production was forecast to expand further this year, adding that an above average harvest was already gathered in 2015 owing to favourable climatic conditions in the main rice-growing regions.
In spite of the floods in some areas, which partly affected the production of rice and tubers, the 2015 cereal production was estimated to have increased by 10 per cent compared to the previous year’s output.
Production of rice, the main cereal grown in the country, also increased by 10 per cent. Similarly, the cassava harvest increased significantly.
The report said: “In 2014, the EVD outbreak resulted in a serious shock to the agriculture and food sectors. Rice production declined by 8 per cent compared to 2013. In particular, cereal production in the Kailahun District was substantially affected by the outbreak that started to spread when crops were being planted and grew during the crop maintenance period, and then expanded rapidly during the critical harvesting period for the staple rice, maize and cassava crops”.
It said although the country’s dependency on imported rice had decreased in recent years, it remained a net importer with a cereal import dependency ratio of about 18 per cent. Trade flows of agricultural commodities to Guinea, Mali and Senegal had recovered significantly.
“In addition, most public gathering restrictions have been lifted improving domestic food markets and trade activities.
“Prices of local staples, including local rice and cassava, showed seasonal increases in recent months, which were amplified by the significant depreciation of the Leone which led to an 80 per cent increase in domestic oil price. However, food prices declined slightly in August reflecting new supplies from the first harvests in August and the end of the 2016 lean season”.
The FAO report also found out that the food situation was improving, noting that beyond its impact on the agriculture and food sector, EVD had seriously affected all other sectors of the economy.