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Siera Grass-roots Agency (SIGA)

Employment Promotion for Youths

About SIGA
Advisory Board Members
History and Acknowledgements
Child Labor and Children Education
Employment Promotion for Youths
Youths and Women in Governance
Forestry and the Environment
Cassava Processing and Marketing
Gravity-Fed Clean Water


1. TITLE OF PROJECT:    Youth Camp for Agricultural Enterprises Development




2. Project Cost



a)    Estimated cost of project.              $ 200,000







The Main Purpose


The main purpose of the project is promote youth employment in rural Sierra Leone.


The project will facilitating a market oriented approach to training and support for the engagement of youths in commercial food production and marketing activities in the rural communities, while fully embarking on as well as promoting thriving and high quality food production businesses in the chiefdom.


The project will set up a sustainable camping program with facilities and resources for groups of youths to acquire real life experience on relevant aspects of quality commercial food crops production, processing and marketing under the supervision of experienced specialists. Part of the profit will be used to fund the implementation of conceived food production businesses of the campers in their communities when they graduate.


A group of 50 youths (male and female age 18 to 35) in the chiefdom will be invited to a non residential camping, and given the opportunity to participate in the commercial food production activities that will include swamp development, rice, cassava, maize, groundnut and vegetables production, processing and marketing.


Camping will cover two seasons (8 months) when wet season and dry season crops will be cultivated, processed and sold.




Project Location

The project area is Yoni Chiefdom, Tonkolili District. The Movement to Educate Children in Work Situations (MECWS) Outreach and Vocational Training Centre facilities located at Mile 91 will be the camping headquarters. The camping facilities will only be available to the youths at chiefdom level


Why will the Project work

YOCAED will be established in a location in the country with very high school dropout rate; no opportunities for wage employment; youths unemployment is rampant, farming practice are crude (slash and burn upland) and mainly for subsistence. The amount and intensity of youth participation is assured. The project is a wonderful solution for the utilization of this abundant youth energy in the improvement of the food and income situations in the rural areas. The project will also provide requisite skills, moral incentives, cash returns that will encourage the youths to take up lucrative farming careers instead of migrating to the urban areas to look for already scarce jobs.


The governments support for the intervention is overwhelming. Firstly the president has vowed to improve employment opportunities for the youths whose present situation is a menace to the hard earned peace in the country.  It is also the declared policy of the Government of Sierra Leone to ensure food security in the country in the short to medium term. Costs of local foods are currently very high; one reason being the low productivity and crude method. The government is therefore very eager for youth empowerment and private sector involvement with local community partnerships to improve commercial food production.


The region is ideal for agriculture. It has thousands of cultivable land available, a tropical climate, rich soils and lowland and highland areas, most of which have been deprived of their forest cover. There is significant potential for the intercropping with soil enriching trees and the expansion of food crops such as rice, cassava, groundnut, maize and vegetables, oil palm, sugar cane. The communal and chiefdom land tenure system and strong government facilitation makes land easy to obtain through secure, long term leases.


Domestic production of a number of food crops in the country is in short of local demand. Population growth and recovery of incomes across West Africa is also causing a rapid increase in demand for food crops. There is high regional demand for products such as rice, cassava products, palm oil, maize and groundnut.  The project will make use of new and the existing network of registered small business partners in the city and major towns to expand the market for products of the camp and communities.


The project is in line with normal occupational activities of the majority of the population in the chiefdom even though most of the practices are rudimentary. The intervention will not only focus on training and food production activities, it will also support the local farmers with improved seeds, and services in land development, advanced processing services, value addition and opening of marketing links that will increase household productivity, family income and improve living conditions.


The project will be organized around a well designed management framework and an experienced team of professionals that will be carefully put together to run the day to day activities. They will be supervised by the experienced agriculturalist and business people




Time Frame


Camping will last for 8 months per year. Preparation for camping will take 6 months.



The potential market


The products of our intervention are mainly staples food such as parboiled rice, cassava and cassava products, corn flour, key wet and dry vegetables, and groundnut, palm and nut oils. These products are part of the regular daily diet in over 90% of the households in the country of 6 million people. The market is thus very extensive and all over the country and the sub region. Surpluses will be transported to parts of the country they will be needed. The itinerant traders and the community people will be supported with market information and updates so that they can take advantage of higher price for the products of the intervention and the communities for distribution to other parts of the country. The intervention will partner with the Industrial Credit Society (ICS), a Group Savings, Investment and Small Insurance Scheme also operated by SIGA; in the marketing of products through its existing and to be expanded network of small business partners in the cities and major towns.


The camp will provide services in extension, labour saving (tractor and power tillers, winnows, millers, oil press and crackers); in land development, food processing, value addition and marketing facilities to support the local communities and the graduating campers in their small food production businesses.




Financial Outlay

















Expected Income

The initial investment of $200,000, will cover cost the first 24 months operations of the intervention. During this period, every aspect of the intervention will be funded adequately and on time. No outside funding will be needed after 24 months.

Key total Investments first 24 months:



Cost $US


Modification of Structures/drying floor/shed/store



Farm Machinery/processing equipment/tools



Machinery operating cost



Specialist/Staff Remuneration



Campers daily subsistence



Planting Materials









Starting Inventory



Total Cost




*   Fixed cost  total  $122,000

#   Recurrent Costs $78,000




Area (Ha)

Average Yield/Ha

Total Yield



Estimated Cost $US



4 MT

800 MT





11 MT

2,200 MT






70 MT





0.326 MT

65 MT










During this first 24 months period, the business will have established a total of 510 hectares of permanent farming environment for the annual cultivation, processing, packaging and marketing of the following products in a sustainable manner,

         800 Metric Tons of quality parboiled rice; estimated cost $200,000

         2,200 Metric Tons cassava; estimated cost $110,000 fetches 45% more when processes to dough, flakes, starch, flour.

         701 Metric Tons of Maize estimated cost $21,000

         65 Metric tons of key vegetables, onions, okra, hot pepper) cost $15,250


Total estimated income for the first 24 months is a minimum of about $347,000.This far exceeds the recurrent and operational running costs for the second season which is estimated at $78,000.


After the first set of one time capital investment in swamp land and upland development, farm machinery and processing equipment, the return on crops in the second year will more than double. This trend of income is expected to sustain the daily operations of the camping program for the succeeding years.


The equipment and tools assembled will be of top quality to reduce repairs and replacement costs. There will be no shortage of youths available for the program in the near future. The report of a brief survey conducted in the communities show overwhelming enthusiasm for the project. With the current dismal educational and deplorable economic situation especially in the rural areas, there will also be at least 50 youths turning 18 every year in need of such a wonderful start to a lucrative occupation they are all too familiar with.

The management, production and supervision staff will be well paid and motivated with incentives and bonuses after the declaration of profit. This will ensure maximum performance and their total commitment to the objectives of the intervention.


With all these measures and options available, the intervention is designed not only for sustain itself but for exponential growth and replication to other Chiefdom areas in the shortest possible time.


Self Reliant Youths















Farmers Benefit

Direct beneficiaries of this intervention are 50 unemployed youths in the Yoni Chiefdom every twelve months; These are largely school dropouts in the chiefdom with no opportunity at all for wage or self employment. They will be able to acquire basic skills in commercial crops production, processing, marketing; skills in the operation and maintenance of farm machinery and processing equipment, swamp and upland development and preservation.   More importantly, they will also receive adequate cash, materials and technical support services from the project to start and maintain their own food production businesses either alone or in groups in the chiefdom. In addition, the trained youths will also be able to use the skills acquired to carry out paid jobs in the operation and maintenance of farm and other machinery and equipment. They would have the technical ability to develop swamps for the communities. They will be able to use their acquired skills to add value to common crops for higher market prices. They will also use their business skills to open up more markets for goods from the communities.


Hundred of farmers will also benefit directly from the services of the project. Rice will be milled, parboiled and bagged properly to increase their value in the market. Cassava tubers will be grater, pressed for starch, and fermented for dough or patched flakes, at very reasonable in-kind cost. The ancillary services will increase storage and shelf life and fetch higher prices of foodstuff in the open market.


The project will be involved in a lot of swamp development to encourage farmers to abandon upland slash and burn farming for the more productive swamps where their harvest will be doubled. This will encourage farmers to embark on more commercial food production and trading that will increase family income significantly. The production increase and quality of products will open up new markets to itinerant traders, whole sellers all over the country to visit the chiefdom. There will be the need for quite a lot of manual labour in its sales and procurement sites.  Youths in the rural communities will benefit from this opportunity. Youths with minimum marketing and procurement qualifications will have the opportunity to prove themselves in the fields of sales, as agents, supervisors.


Top level professionals will also be employed in supervision, monitoring, accounting, stores, community sensitization, and training and extension services.


The traditional training for youth employment in Sierra Leone is straight forward. The youths are trained for a period, issued with Graduation Certificates and sometimes start-up capital or materials and then let go.


A key innovation of the project is its Inclusive Business Module around which it is centered. Groups of youths become temporary business partners with the camp; the camp will utilize their labour effectively, carry out intensive food production, processing and marketing activities, and at the end of the camping the profit is shared with the youths. The youths are empowered with the acquired skills, sizable income and constant support services for them to start and sustain their businesses either in groups or as individuals. They could also seek employment in the operation and maintenance of farm and other related machinery and equipment.


The complete business approach to skills development for youth employment in agriculture is a novelty in Sierra Leone.


The intervention emphasizes the development of the more productive swamp lands for training and intensive year round cultivation of crops. In a few years the intervention would have developed enough swamps for the locals to conveniently utilized and realize the immense benefits of using them. This will reduce the current dominant pattern of farming on the uplands in the chiefdom, which involves the slash and burn, deforestation, land degradation and the attendant environmental hazards.


The intervention will also target a multiple permanent cropping system of upland cultivation and pasture within a system of contour hedgerows of leguminous tree species which will provide soil cover and nitrogen rich materials for soil improvement.




The intervention is inspired by the personal experience of the Executive Director SIGA (Vidal Roberts) who went through a similar 6 months certificate agricultural training program in 1976; which changed his life and inspired him to the pursuance of a Bachelors degree in Agriculture instead of his favoured Mechanical Engineering. The 6 months training acquired then was not business oriented but was able to lure most of the trainees to the profession and most are in employment of the Ministry Of Agriculture and agriculture related areas. There will be no shortage of quality and experienced personnel for the overall supervision of the intervention.



35 Ferguson Street * Freetown, Sierra Leone West Africa

                    Tel:+232- 22 220884                              Mobile: +232 -76-603491