Mountain Lion Ag (MLAg) is happy to report that our partnership with Micro-lenders KIVA (kiva.org) is delivering outstanding results for Sierra Leone’s hardest working women. Dozens of unemployed women, many of whom lost their trading businesses during the Ebola Crisis, are getting a second chance to work thanks to KIVA lenders. KIVA lenders enable these women to purchase their first round of stock from MLAg, who is providing free delivery, marketing support and a special discount on rice supplied. This powerful combination has benefited dozens of hard-working female traders who are now gainfully employed, sending their children to school and looking to the future with confidence. KIVA/MLAg supported traders gave KIVA fellow Victor Prevot a warm welcome during his recent visit to Makeni (pictured below). Victor and Mountain Lion Ag staff were also interviewed by the international news agency African Young Voices, who featured this inspiring partnership on their global news program Nov 21st at 7pm and 9pm GMT.
The 2017 results from MLAg’s research farm proved up our carbon-building methodology, which demonstrated a yield-per-acre increase of 37% compared to the typical method of low-input broadcast farming used by most smallholder farmers. While fewer in number per acre, plants growing with our Fukuoka-inspired farming method yielded 14-17 panicles per plant, with 65-75 seeds per head. This is a significant increase from the traditional method smallholders use, where plants will have a range of 6-9 panicles per plant with 40-50 seeds per head. While the carbon-building method requires more labour during planting and the initial month of growth, it also required 1/3rd less labour for weeding throughout the season when compared to the typical method used by smallholders. The results on our Carbon-building plot are pictured below:
Mountain Lion Agriculture is very excited to announce it has officially launched a partnership with KIVA.org – an innovative, online platform that allows individuals from all over the world to connect with and provide microloans to entrepreneurs, farmers, etc. in countries like Sierra Leone.
KIVA is an outstanding organisation and we are very, very proud to be partnering with them to expand our support for female smallholder farmers involved in rice production. We are also supporting female traders, enabling them to develop or expand small businesses that were in many cases crippled by the Ebola Crisis. Mountain Lion Agriculture (MLAg) invites you to take a look at the loans we are facilitating on the KIVA website, with support welcome:
These loans will make an immense difference to Sierra Leonean women striving to empower themselves and their communities during this difficult post-Ebola recovery period.
Mountain Lion Agriculture is also happy to announce that several years of our research into rice farming methods (specifically related to smallholder productivity) in Sierra Leone has been published by the Tropical Agriculture Association in their prestigious quarterly Journal, Ag4Dev. This journal is available online here:
The board and staff of MLAg would like to thank our Director and VP of R&D, Dr. Alex Zieba, for his tireless work, time spent visiting Sierra Leone and effort put into this important article: “Yield expectations and efficiency in Sierra Leone.”
This video update from Mountain Lion Agriculture’s Model Farm was filmed in May 2016 and includes a demonstration of the sustainable, economical farming method being disseminated to our 4000+ smallholder suppliers. This method was inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka’s work and builds soil fertility and carbon using readily available waste materials from local farms and villages. As a result it is significantly less expensive than methods which rely on imported chemicals, and also delivers superior yields in the context of Sierra Leone’s acidic soils. Mountain Lion Agriculture Staff visited the Fukuoka Farm in southern Japan in April of 2016 to refine their knowledge of the method, and would like to thank the Fukuoka family for their immensely helpful support and guidance. Please note that the exact spacing and size of rice plants in this demo is not ideal and simply serves to demonstrate the basic methodology of carbon building for rice. See below for the finished product of compost, husk and mulch applied to rice:
Mountain Lion Agriculture is also pleased to have been singled out as Sierra Leone’s “leading rice company” by the country’s Agriculture Minister, The Right Honourable Professor Monty Jones, on May 26th 2016 at a gathering in Makeni. We would like to formally thank the Right Honourable Minister for this – MLAg considers praise from our local government and stakeholders the highest form of recognition as we work hard to serve the nation and its smallholder farmers.
Mountain Lion Agriculture is proud to present its locally made 2016 advert for Sierra Leonean Television. The advert promotes our facilities as well as the exceptional health benefits of our rice – which is produced in Makeni and supplied 100% by local Sierra Leonean Smallholder Farmers who we support with seed loans, equipment and training. We sell 100% of our finished rice locally into lumas(local markets), wholesale shops and also recently launched and innovative petty-trader financing scheme where we advance rice on credit to female traders to enable them to establish and grow their trading business. Mountain Lion Agriculture can also deliver larger orders (50+ 50kg bags) nationwide. Please contact us locally at 088 532 170 or 077 433 730 if you are interested in purchasing our rice.
Mountain Lion Agriculture is pleased to announce the completion of a 740 Metric Ton order for parboiled, local rice commissioned by the World Food Programme. We purchased the raw paddy for this order from over 4000 smallholder farmers in Sierra Leone and bolstered vulnerable rural households during a critical time for the country and its Ag Economy. The order was completed despite Ebola-related travel restrictions and logistical challenges, during the height of Sierra Leone’s rainy season (a difficult time to buy and process rice). To fill the order, our Company even had to transport approximately 20 tons of raw paddy rice by boat!
Completing a large order under such difficult circumstances is a credit to the outstanding performance and dedication of our staff, as well as the loyalty of our smallholder suppliers. We challenge any international company who enters Sierra Leone with a large contingent of expat labour or leadership to instead give Sierra Leonean staff and suppliers a chance. Our work is proving that Sierra Leoneans are some of the hardest working, most honest, and most loyal people on the planet.
MLAg has more good news. Every year we sponsor a student who lacks funds to attend the University of Makeni. This year’s recipient, John Teddy Senesie Baimba, was awarded the “Brain of the University” Certificate of Merit for his best-in-class performance. Mountain Lion Ag would like to congratulate John who like our staff is proving the outstanding ability of Sierra Leoneans to endure great challenges and yet still rise to the occasion when opportunities are presented.
This video update of Mountain Lion Agriculture’s Model Farm was filmed July 2015 on site and details some basic farming techniques we are disseminating to our smallholder suppliers – techniques specifically tried and tested to maximize their growth while keeping costs down and things simple. We also take you through our “Multi-User” farm pilot and related CSR.
2015 has been a tough year for our Company and smallholder suppliers, but Mountain Lion Agriculture has persevered and we are continuing to enhance food security in Sierra Leone while helping a record number of smallholder rice farmers. In Q1 and Q2 of 2015 our Company gave interest-free seed loans to 1,142 smallholders and purchased raw rice from over 4200 small farmers in Sierra Leone.
None of the above would be possible without the outstanding support, equipment, inputs and services we receive from our dedicated partners and suppliers. Mountain Lion Agriculture would therefore like to thank the following:
Sarona Asset Management
The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund
American International Line
Bob Lamb Co.
J.L. & Marci Ford
Josh Biemond & Genesis Soil Rite
Mountain Lion Agriculture recently conducted a nutritional study examining how our local Sierra Leonean, parboiled red-grain varieties (which you can see in the pictures below) compare to other rice varieties. The results are very exciting. Based off of laboratory tests done at Sunwest Lab in Canada, our rice is clearly superior to brown rice and is very high in protein, vitamin A and iron – all this alongside a superior taste and texture!
What does winning Canada’s 2014 Social Finance Awards alongside MEDA mean to Mountain Lion Agriculture? We feel deeply honoured by this recognition of our work – the field of nominees was excellent, a testament to the strength of Canada’s growing impact investment and business sector. The award greatly bolstered the morale of our staff but is also a deeper recognition of the rising, demonstrable efficacy of impact investment and business in tackling the toughest problems with resilient, sustainable solutions.
The 2014 Social Finance Award recognizes Mountain Lion Agriculture during a critical time for our business, and for the farmers and consumers we serve in Sierra Leone. The Ebola outbreak which has made international headlines continues to wreak havoc upon Sierra Leone’s health system, economy and people. In this context, the fact our company and business model is defined by a social purpose has been instrumental in enabling us to continue our work. In fact, during the Ebola outbreak we are having a record year in terms of production and the number of smallholder farmers we have assisted. With the strength of business thinking on the one hand, and the centrality of purpose usually associated with a non-profit/charity on the other, we have persevered despite the immense challenges facing our staff and company during the crisis.
This synthesis of business and purpose also enables us to provide a unique solution to the acute food security crisis caused by the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. The problem is clear: Agriculture Minister Joseph Sam Sesay reported in late 2014 that the Ag economy “has been deflated by 30% because of Ebola” while closing borders and reduced shipping are making it difficult for food imports to reach Sierra Leone. Yet if relief aid agencies and donors invest resources in food security by indiscriminately importing grains, they will stem short-term supply shortages but may damage long term efforts by Sierra Leonean farmers, traders, and domestic businesses to service the country’s demand for rice. In contrast, Mountain Lion Agriculture is working with local producers, paying market prices for their raw rice, processing it locally and finally selling competitively priced, finished rice locally. We are enhancing livelihoods in communities hit hard by the Ebola crisis, strengthening the country’s agricultural sector, and delivering food rapidly while creating local employment – all on a sustainable, profitable basis.
In addition to this, Mountain Lion Agriculture has been providing families suffering from Ebola with our rice as food aid, at no cost, as a new CSR program complementing our existing impact business model. These efforts have been widely recognized by local Sierra Leonean media outlets, including newspapers such as Awoko. This CSR was initially made possible through the ongoing support of our farmer friends in Greenfield IL – an outstanding, hard-working community which has been highly supportive because of our business-based approach and problem solving. See pictures of this CSR below.
Impact businesses – which MaRS, The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund and other forward-thinking institutions are working hard to facilitate – have unique strengths that make them a powerful vehicle for solving long term, complex problems. The 2014 Social Finance Award is an important recognition of this, and the fact that as an impact-business we are helping to lead the fight against the long-term damage caused by the Ebola crisis with the support of our partners. We therefore invite Foundations, Donors and Investors to consider Impact investment and business as a step towards a future where the power of our economy is harnessed to solve problems rather than create them – by uniting purpose with profit.
I’m happy to announce that Mountain Lion Agriculture has won Canada’s prestigious 2014 Social Finance Award. The award recognizes our Agribusiness for outstanding innovation in the areas of poverty reduction and food security in Sierra Leone.
As chairman/co-founder I would like to dedicate the award to my fellow co-founder Donald Ola Smart and our team in Sierra Leone, who have made great sacrifices for our company and for the poor farmers that we serve.
I would also like to extend my sincerest thanks to everyone who voted – without you, this would not have been possible!
Please see below for Mountain Lion Agriculture’s company theme, written by our local staff for farmer meetings and trainings. It captures the spirit with which we work together with our suppliers: Farming, supporting farmers and developing Sierra Leone’s Agriculture sector from the ground up is our passion!