Date of release: Monday, September 16, 2013

Jeremy Haggar visiting a coffee nursery in Sierra Leone.A grant of €1.4 million has been awarded to the university's Natural Resources Institute (NRI) for a scheme which will boost the coffee production capacity of Sierra Leone.

Over the next three years the Robusta Coffee Development Project aims to improve the livelihoods of more than 10,000 farmers in Sierra Leone through increased productivity and better access to world markets. During the scheme, abandoned plantations will be replanted and revived in a partnership between farmer associations, cooperatives, traders and the Sierra Leone government.

Before the civil war, Sierra Leone was an important coffee producer, exporting about 25,000 tonnes per year. Currently only about 2,000 tonnes are exported annually, and the sector has not recovered significantly during the past decade of peace.

The project, funded by the European Commission, is part of the Sierra Leonean Government's Agriculture for Development Programme. It proposes to help Sierra Leone compete in world markets by achieving better prices and producing products which are high quality and certified as sustainable.

Experts from NRI will provide training and technical assistance to the farmer associations, to help them improve their business management capacity, test new quality processing methods and adopt sustainable production practices.

Project leader Jeremy Haggar, from NRI, says: "We will be helping farmers, who barely produce enough food for themselves, to renovate their abandoned coffee farms and generate income to reduce rural poverty in Sierra Leone, one of the world's poorest nations."

Last month Jeremy helped to launch the project in the town of Kenema, Sierra Leone, in August, in an event attended by senior government officials, farmers and other partnership representatives.

The project will be run in partnership with Welthungerhilfe, a German development organisation, and two Sierra Leonean farmer organisations.

Story by Public Relations

Picture: Jeremy Haggar visiting a coffee nursery in Sierra Leone.