Commercial Food Processing Entrepreneurs Sierra Leone

By Maren Peters, Endeva

Commercial Food Processing Entrepreneurs Sierra Leone

I am lucky enough to just arrive at the right time of the year: The month of Independence Day. The Independence Day is a huge event for all Sierra Leoneans and a lot of activities, street celebrations and cultural events are coming with it. This gives me the opportunity to dive into the commercial world of Sierra Leone and finding out that there is a big untapped potential in the Agri- food sector.

Amongst all these activities and programs is the “National and international Trade Fair and Exhibition” around the big National Stadium. There are colorful booths all around the stadium, exhibiting basically anything from internet services, plastic items of all kind, forklifts, cement, fashion jewelry, clothes, babyfood, interior design, medicines and drinks, presented by more or less motivated sales and marketing personnel or students.

Almost all the commercial food- processing entrepreneurs are represented: All four of them! Not a lot? Absolutely right! My first lesson learned is that there is very little value addition taking place domestically- and a big market demand has to be complied with through international imports.

At the fair I saw Bennimix, a baby- food processing company, and of course you have the foreign beer brands producing and sourcing locally. The more innovative things one can see are Moringa- tea and – powder and enriched and flavored gari. Gari is a popular West African Food made from cassava, which is grated and fried. “Planting Promise”, founded by foreigners, adds flavor and nutrients to it which makes it a unique product. I’m looking forward to try my strawberry-, pineapple-, and coconut- packages!

The Moringa tea comes in a surprisingly fancy package- a green carton, with single- packed tea bags in a nice design. I was delighted to see it: Seriously, there is a company in Sierra Leone producing nice packaging for processed products? The answer is no. The packaging has to be imported from China. Second lesson learned: The enabling environment for businesses producing shelf- stable products is challenging.

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