The present country overview is designed to serve as an instrument in support of the sustainable agro-logistic development needed in Sierra Leone, to secure food for its people both in an urban and rural context and as a tool to overcome the vulnerabilities of a fragile country as to promote peace. This country report examines three major themes: food insecurity as the result of conflict, facilitating trade and improving domestic agro-logistic services to come out of isolation and for lower trade costs and efficient supply chains to link agriculture to markets as a sustainable option for food security and the basic infrastructure to support essential services and unlock pockets of productivity.
Food insecurity, Sierra Leone is a country coming out of a decade of conflicts, and it’s coming out with its people harmed and its infrastructure destroyed. It is a fragile country is vulnerable, but it has specific areas that can lead the country to overcome its present fragile state.
Trade facilitation reduces trade costs, enhances export growth, and improves competitiveness. Sierra Leone has high transport costs, poor infrastructure, and poor-developed logistics services all these together limit the country’s ability to mature competitive value-added exports and raise the costs of imported goods. Even though there have been improvements in infrastructure that reduce travel time and vehicle operating costs there is a need to reduce operational delay to reduce regulatory problems.
There are weak areas in need of better enforcement of government policies about infrastructure bottlenecks and intermodal connectivity, logistics service quality, and technical issues with customs and border agencies.
Transport infrastructure is a means to come out of isolation connecting urban and rural areas to markets, jobs, and services. Transport infrastructure is the net that connects agriculture to markets, teachers, and children to schools, doctors, and patients to health care facilities, women to water facilities, and people to jobs. These infrastructure network aims to identify potential growth sectors and set the infrastructure that could unlock their potential. This paper addresses agriculture, and vertical hydroponic farming, as an opportunity area for sustainable growth and puts it into perspective to secure nutritious food at all times and to generate jobs and an income as the progress that Sierra Leone needs. Two areas of opportunity are addressed: sustainable agriculture and sustainable ago-logistics to secure food. To have a better understanding of the conditions that affect the food security of the poor and the very poor in a fragile country, such as Sierra Leone, this paper covers the geography, access to markets, mode of transport, and transport infrastructure of supply and demand for the commodity of rice which is the main staple food of the Leones; the role of the small-scale producers to industrial food processors in the marketing system; the seasonality of the country; import-dependence of rice and the vertical hydroponic farming system. These factors have an impact on the stability of food availability and access, food prices, and, income levels, therefore on the four pillars of food security: food availability, access, utilization, and stability. Marketing systems: include the complete commodity distribution system from production to consumption. It describes the main actors and the linkages between distinct phases of the distribution process of a commodity, and the spatial and functional interconnections between market actors. The research objective of this paper is to find out, how food insecurity is an opportunity for vertical hydroponic farming to overcome the transport infrastructure and services deficit that fragile countries face being food secure. Conflicts affect the economic activity of a country in many ways. They reduce the availability of human and physical capital through casualties and migration, plus the destruction of infrastructure, buildings, and plants. Conflict disrupts production and trade routes, it creates uncertainty and threatens confidence resulting in an impoverishment of growth. The poor are the people most affected. Conflict undermines food security and nutrition, on the other hand, improved food security and more-resilient livelihoods can recover lasting peace by preventing conflict.
Food security is facing several threats like rural transportation, infrastructure, conflicts, high prices, climate change, and even our diets. These threats are challenging the success of a food-secured world. The root causes of hunger are the economic and social conditions that each country lives in. It is difficult to picture the possibility of achieving a food-secure world without sustainable development. When thinking about poor people, it is difficult to keep in mind that hem they are poor women and men with hopes and doubts, limitations and aspirations, beliefs and confusion. In many cases, the poor are not seen as a source of knowledge or as someone to be consulted about what they think or want, or do. Because poor people have very little, it is taken for granted that there is nothing important about their economic existence. This misconception has undermined the fight against food security. To progress in this sense, it is necessary to take the time to comprehend their lives with all the complexity and richness that involves t. To picture how the poor life, imagine having US$0.99 to spend for almost all your everyday needs but housing. It would be difficult. And still, in 2005, 865 million people did (Rulfo, 2011, p. 10). What captures attention is that even as poor as they are, they have the same desires and weaknesses and are as rational as we are and because they have so little they put careful thought into their choices to survive which is in contrast with many traits of our lives that we take for granted. This means that they also should make the most out of their talents to secure their family´s future and it takes as much skill, willpower, and commitment. Thus, the little costs, barriers, and mistakes have a significant impact on their lives. It is not easy to secure food for a family and to come out of poverty. But there is the possibility to find a way out and with a little well-focused help and a push on the right lever, large effects can be achieved. It is vital to have hope and critical knowledge and to keep on trying even when the outlook is overwhelming. In many cases, victory is not as far away as it seems. The importance of this paper relies on the fact that after many decades of social and economic aid, many fragile countries remain in a situation where many of their people are living food insecure; meaning they do not know when their next meal will be and how would they be able to access it.
The world is still far away from achieving the vision of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations: to create “a world free of hunger and malnutrition and one in which food and agriculture contribute to improving the living standards of all, especially the poorest, in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner” (FAO, 2017). By 2050, 2.5 billion people are expected to live in urban areas; thus, rural residents will need to seek economic opportunities and access to services. Africa´s population is estimated to grow from 40 percent to 56 percent in urban areas in 2050 and urban areas in Asia from 48 to 64 percent (United Nations, 2015). More than 90 percent of the world´s food-insecure population lives in Africa, and 28 out of the 29 food riots took place here from 2007 to 2008 and 2010 to 2011 global food rises (Lagi, 2011). Increases in urbanization are also taking place in the Middle East and Central Asia. By leaving the farm for other employment opportunities, these people will be new dependents of markets rather than farm producers. This paper presents measures that can be adopted by private investors, NGOs, and/or governments involved in providing solutions to secure food for people. The findings of this thesis emphasize the relevance of making use of agricultural innovations, in this case, vertical hydroponic farming inside a shipping container, to overcome agro-logistic constraints that detain or block farming; thus, blocking people from having access to nutritious food and making a sustainable means of living out of it. The scope of this paper is to gather the necessary information, from one selected fragile country which will be Sierra Leone, Africa, to establish relationships between food insecurity drivers in a fragile country and how can vertical hydroponic farming inside a shipping container can address these drivers, to establish a relationship between the transport-logistics to commute to the nearest market either to buy or to sell surplus crops in a fragile country and vertical hydroponic farming inside a shipping container. The research is based on several case studies, one on the status of food security and nutrition in Sierra Leone, another one on a rural transport diagnostic study in Sierra Leone, other on the roads infrastructure situation on three different roads, and another one on Sierra Leone´s staple food market fundamentals. A constraint that was found in the case study about food market fundamentals was that the observers from this study noticed that government statistics inflated the production numbers thus estimates do not reflect actual conditions, therefore the rice sector most probably has been increasing in last past years but probably not to the levels stated by official statistics (NET, 2017, p. 23).
The structure of the paper starts with the definition of food insecurity, the state of food insecurity, factors that undermine food insecurity, like prices, and a linkage between food shortage and malnutrition, then the paper starts providing more detailed information on the status of food insecurity in Sierra Leone, the levels of performance of agro-logistics, revises more specifically how is the transport infrastructure in three roads, and explains the value-chain for rice. The paper explains the benefits of agro-logistics and how can it bring economic benefits to society; the paper retakes food insecurity but more about agro-logistics, explaining means of transport, modes of transport, cost of transportation, timings, and frequency. The purpose is to explore from an isolated case study the effects of food insecurity and a poor agro-logistics system in a fragile country, and later when considering a different case study about food insecurity and access to markets the outcomes are the same. The benefits of a functioning agro-logistics system are addressed as how food insecurity promotes economic development. The technology proposed to make an opportunity for the development of a sustainable agro-logistics system is implementing vertical hydroponic farming inside a shipping container. Armed conflict: collective violent confrontations among two or more groups, it could be state or non-state actors. Acute food insecurity refers to temporary gaps in access to food and can result from a variety of factors ranging from high prices to disruptions in delivery systems, recessions, natural disasters and extreme weather events, political turmoil, and violent conflict. Body mass index (BMI): the ratio of weight to height, measured as the weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. Conflict: with regards to this paper conflict refers to struggles between interdependent groups that have incompatibilities about values, goals, resources, or intentions. Chronic food insecurity is a persistent lack of “sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life” and is generally caused by extreme poverty. Dietary energy intake: the energy content of the food consumed.
Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES): food insecurity measured by this indicator refers to limited access to food, at the individual or household level, due to a lack of money or other resources. It measures the severity of food insecurity. How it is reported: – as the prevalence (%) of individuals in the population living in households where at least one adult was found to be severely food insecure estimated number of individuals in the population living in households where a minimum of one adult was found severely food insecure. Fragility: refers to the mixture of exposure to risk and insufficient coping capacities of the government, system, and/or communities to manage, absorb or mitigate those risks. Hunger: with regards to this paper hunger is synonymous with chronic undernourishment. Urban protest and rioting refer to demonstrations that may be peaceful or violent, episodic or more sustained, that occur in densely populated areas. The relationships between food prices and political instability are casual in the way that considering food prices as the cause increases the probability of an event in this case political instability; known as probabilistic causality. Mass events rarely happen due to one cause, but thanks to designed research methodologies, researchers can estimate the degree to which a specific cause influences the occurrence of an event. Thus, food insecurity and food prices back to political instability but are not the only factors. Undernourishment: refers to the condition in which an individual´s regular food consumption is not enough to provide the amount of dietary energy needed to maintain a normal, active, healthy life. The prevalence of undernourishment (PoU), is reported as an estimate of the proportion of the population that has lived in a condition of undernourishment over the mentioned period (generally one year). Several data sources can be used to compute the different parameters of the model.