Our Small Farmer Focus
Our unwavering commitment as a company is to the small farmers of Sierra Leone; to understanding their needs; to providing them with the support they need to grow – sustainably and profitably. Our success will only be measured by their success. To support this aim, we’ve conducted workshops, studies, surveys, and above all, listened to the communities in which we operate. Many years of immersion and work in-country have informed every aspect of our business model and underpin all of our success to-date. The three following programs emerged from this experience and they continue to evolve, in response to the constant dialogue we maintain with local elders, farmers and communities.
In-Kind Seed/Input Loan Program
After hundreds of discussions with local communities and several global agricultural sector reviews, we have identified the following factors as being the most significant obstacles to profitable small scale farming in general (in order of significance):
- High debt loads and access to financing
- Affordable access to good quality seeds
- Affordable access to small (and sometimes large) farming equipment
- Affordable access to other crop inputs
- Access to labour
In response to the factors identified above, we’ve deployed an In-Kind Input Loan Program which eliminates debt and finance from the equation for small farmers. We provide them with good quality seed, access to equipment, fertilizer and pesticides and are paid, on a strictly cost basis (i.e. no interest), in rice paddy during harvest.
It was also clear from our years of experience in-country, that farmers needed support to improve the productivity of their farms but the knowledge, techniques and technologies which could help improve rice yields were not very well established in Sierra Leone. Given that all farming is local, the technologies that dramatically improve rice yields in other regions and countries may not be very effective for the small farmers of Sierra Leone. This creates a high risk environment for small farmers who are not able to sustain the costs associated with new techniques and technologies, if their promised increases in yields don’t materialize. For this reason, and to help contribute to the knowledge base of the country in general, Mountain Lion Agriculture has established a state-of-the-art research farm where we test new seed varieties, farming techniques and technologies. Any techniques or technologies that are delivered through our Input Loan Program are thoroughly tested on our farm first, minimizing the risk that small farmers will face when investing in them.