The civil war in Sierra Leone, caused by a mix of political, social, and economic factors, had a huge impact on the overall economy in general and on the performance of the agricultural sector in particular. The agricultural research system of Sierra Leone was severely affected by the civil war. Research infrastructure was destroyed, laboratories were damaged and abandoned, and well-trained researchers and scientists fled from the country. With the cessation of hostilities in 2002, the government of Sierra Leone concentrated its efforts on the resettlement of displaced persons and on social and economic reconstruction. The efforts of the government include the rehabilitation and reorganization of the former National Agricultural Research Coordinating Council (NARCC), which was coordinating agricultural research in Sierra Leone.
The Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI) Act was passed by the parliament of Sierra Leone in 2007 to replace NARCC. As a new organization, SLARI needed to make strategic decisions to guide its operations in order to make it effective in responding to the demands of stakeholders within the food and agriculture system. To provide a focus for SLARI and link its agenda to national development priorities, a strategic plan and operational plan were developed. The methodology used to design the SLARI strategic plan applied an organizational innovation model through which the plan was nested within the strategic plan of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and Conseil Ouest et Center Africain pour la Recherche et le Développement Agricoles (CORAF) / West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (WECARD), and the operational plan was hinged on Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP) and Framework for African Agricultural Productivity (FAAP) principles. This would ensure synergy with regional and subregional strategies. The strategic plan would promote increased coordination, interaction, interlinkages, partnerships, and networks among the various agents associated with agricultural research for development systems in Sierra Leone. It would also help achieve SLARI’s vision of increasing food security and wealth among Sierra Leone’s rural population.
For SLARI to make a meaningful contribution to agricultural development in Sierra Leone, the operational plan must be implemented in such a way that the results envisaged in the strategic plan can be achieved. This requires funds and commitment from all stakeholders, especially the government of Sierra Leone.