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Promoting Food Production in Sierra Leone

My vision is to make Sierra Leone self sufficient and independent

Photo of Tholoma Sumah
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Foundation for Development

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Large NGO (over 50 employees)

Website of Legally Registered Entity we are at the moment working on our website.

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • Under 1 year

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Sierra Leone

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Sierra Leone

What country is your selected Place located in?

Sierra Leone

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

I have selected Sierra Leone because of the vast fertile soil it has and the fact that majority of its citizens live in abject poverty and hunger. The country is largely dependent on imports including its staple food; rice. As a citizen of Sierra Leone, I have a civic responsibility to do whatever within my power to change the narrative of the country and my fellow citizens who have almost become hopeless.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Sierra Leone is a small West African country found on the coast.The country has four regions, sixteen districts and 149 Chiefdoms. The capital city of the country is Freetown located at the mountainous western area of the country. Sierra Leone has 16 tribes with Temne being the largest followed by Mende. The country's staple food is rice which is largely imported. Many of the population rely on farming which is gradually declining due to lack of support to adopt mechanization in agriculture. The only hope of the people is the available lands and the huge reserve of natural resources.

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Sierra Leone's current food system faces challenges such as the lack of technology, lack of finance and unfriendly land policies. Advanced practices like irrigation, drainage and fertilizer availability and application are all absent. These issues are seriously affecting Sierra Leone which has resulted to the country not being able to produce enough food for itself. If it continues like this, the country would have to fully depend on imports. The country also lacks the ability to import enough which has resulted in extreme hunger in the country. Diets is another big problem. Majority of the population cannot either afford or access balanced balanced diets. Carbohydrate is the major food consumed. Going forward to 2050, the the above challenges will be worse if they are not tackled. But if they are solved, the country may have to face environmental challenges like land degradation and climate change. This would definitely affect production as crops would be destroyed as result of unpredictable weather conditions and lack of fertility of the soil. The country may also face problem with food value wherein there might be the presence of substandard food in the market. As a result of the lack of the above, many farmers just farm once per year in very small piece of lands. Normally, there is low yield and there is no income derived from the produce. Transportation of the food to bigger towns is also a great problem.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

My vision would address these challenges by increasing food production and packaging in the country. My organisation is currently looking out for funds to support one thousand, six hundred (1,600) farmers across the country with seeds, tools, machinery(if available), food for work and finance to increase their level of production. Apart from supporting the farmers my organisation would also embark on farming to enable us support more farmers in subsequent years. We are working towards achieving modern farming practices which include irrigation systems, drainage systems, organic fertilizers, improved way of animal husbandry and the use of machines to increase food sufficiency. In the area of climate change, we will adopt good practices like tree planting, swift cropping etc We would embark on the training of farmers on modern methods of minimizing the danger of farming.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

With these problems addressed, there would be sufficient food in country which would be exported thereby leading to economic growth. Hunger and poverty would be eliminated and there would be jobs across the country. No body would go to bed hungry as it currently happens, crimes would be minimized, and business will boom with local produce which would eventually create wealth for locals.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

One of the major problems facing Sierra Leone's food system is the lack of machines. Therefore, my vision would make use of machines both for farming and food production to increase the availability and sustainability of food. This would give rise to the establishment of food factories for food processing and packaging. My vision would also make use of modern ways of farming like irrigation, drainage, and machines to produce more than once every year. This would ensure the availability and sustainability of food supply in the country. This would give rise to employment and economic growth in the country. Locals are would be assisted with finance, seeds, tools and machinery to do there own farms which would be bought my organisation or any other organisation interested for the production and packaging of food. This would help increase packaged and nourished food. It is noteworthy that over 90% of the food currently produced in the country is not packaged and not benefiting the majority of the population. The vision would improve distribution system of food and dramatically reduce food price to be affordable by all.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Facebook
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Attachments (6)

WhatsApp Image 2019-11-09 at 16.15.19.jpeg

In a meeting with other organisations. I am telling them about the importance of agriculture.

WhatsApp Image 2019-10-14 at 20.07.11.jpeg

In a meeting with traditional heads about the importance of agriculture and to allow my organisation operate in their jurisdiction

WhatsApp Image 2019-10-14 at 20.07.14.jpeg

In a meeting with local people discussing the way forward for agriculture in their communities

WhatsApp Image 2019-11-16 at 21.10.16.jpeg

This is the logo of my organisation


Receiving an award from World Bank for my ideas to develop Sierra Leone and Africa as a whole.

Tholoma Sumah says Sierra Leone can produce what it consumes.mp4

This was an interview a TV station had with me after attending a World Bank/IMF Spring meeting in Washington DC


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lori Herz

Dear Tholoma,

My name is Lori and I am a Bioengineering professor at Lehigh University (Pennsylvania, USA). A team of Lehigh faculty have been collaborating with World Hope International, an NGO with a large presence in Makeni, on health and nutrition projects. Our submission for the Food Systems Vision Prize focuses on nutrition, food self-sufficiency, and establishing small businesses in Sierra Leone and, therefore, is quite similar to yours. For more details, please see our submission:

Our team is fortunate to have been selected as semi-finalists for the Prize, and we are working on refining our Vision. I would love to learn more about your work and your organization, and collaborate with you, if there is mutual interest.

Best regards,

Photo of Tholoma Sumah

Hello Lori,
Congratulations to your team for making it to the semi-finals. I hope that you graduate to the finals. Thank you for contacting me. My organization Foundation for Development fights hunger, poverty and joblessness. We are always ready to work with any other organisation to complement each other. I am looking forward to further discussions with you and your team. This is my personal email

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