The 1991–2002 civil war that ravaged Sierra Leone virtually destroyed the country’s agricultural R&D infrastructure. When hostilities ended, Sierra Leone began the long and painful process of re-establishing its agricultural R&D system, rehabilitating its research infrastructure, and rebuilding agricultural R&D capacity.
The importance of agricultural S&T in bringing about social and economic development in Sierra Leone was quickly recognized by the national government, and a clear agricultural sector policy was developed, including the establishment of SLARI as the nation’s primary agricultural research institute.
Much progress has been achieved in recent years. During 2001–09, national agricultural R&D expenditures more than doubled (in real terms), and total agricultural R&D capacity rose by half. Nonetheless, the country still has a long way to go in rehabilitating its research stations and laboratories, as well as recruiting and training research and support staff. In order to achieve all of this, a considerable amount of additional funding is needed. Importantly, the donor community has begun to respond with the implementation of a large number of projects. Reinstating a viable and sustainable agricultural R&D system will take time, but the foundations have been established in the form of solid policies supporting food security and export development, and government and donor funding to effect the necessary changes.