Along with cocoa, coffee is one of the major cash crops of Sierra Leone and is mainly cultivated in tropical rainforest regions in the Southern and Eastern provinces of the country.
The Republic of Sierra Leone is located in West Africa and bordered on the southeast by Liberia and Guinea to the east and north. The Atlantic Ocean sits to the west and southwest.
The climate of Sierra Leone is generally tropical though there are a diversity of environments ranging from rainforests to savannah. The country is rich in a variety of mineral resources and is one of the world’s top ten diamond producers.
Major coffee growing districts include Moyumba, Bo, Kenema, Pujuhem, Kono and Kailhahun. A smaller amount of coffee is grown in the the Koindugu and Tonkolili districts of the Northern Province of Sierra Leone.
Coffee Production in Sierra Leone Hindered by Civil War
Civil war from 1991 to 2002 drastically reduced coffee production in Sierra Leone from about 15,000 metric tons annually to around 2,000 tons annually. Coffee farming families were displaced by the war and coffee plants were abandoned.
Though many people have returned to their farms most of the coffee plants have not yet been rehabilitated. Problems include a shortage of labor, severe poverty, and lack of technology to improve production and processing methods.
Many of the coffee plants have become wild and some former coffee plantations are moderately managed with an effort to gain some production.
Sierra Leone Coffee Production Hinges on New Investment
If recent surges in world coffee prices are sustained it may eventually reinvigorate the Sierra Leone coffee market though new investments in improved coffee plant varietals with better yields. However there has been more focus on rehabilitating cocoa production.
Sierra Leone has large areas of land that have been judged to be suitable for coffee production though it remains to be seen whether there will be investment to increase coffee planting.
With the large number of wild coffee now growing in the country there is an increasing amount of organic coffee being produced in Sierra Leone.
The population of Sierra Leone is about 6.2 million people and most live in poverty. Also a concern is government corruption and thus continued instability may hinder any large increases in Sierra Leone coffee production.
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