I work in Kailahun district, Eastern Sierra Leone where I serve as the district’s Private Sector Development Officer for the GIZ-EPP 3 project. I have served in a similar position before in Freetown for a privately owned company, but with a different title: Business Development Officer. My previous position is very much similar in nature to the one I was offered at GIZ-EPP; only that it required a change of settings. In contrast to working in Freetown where I mostly talk to business executives and heads of NGOs in air-conditioned offices and restaurants to seal business deals; in Kailahun where I am deployed, I have to engage very isolated rural communities where more often than not, the most reliable means of accessing them is by motor bikes. All of these challenges did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for field work as it had always been my dream to work with community people and actively participate in their efforts to improve their quality of life.
Kailahun is situated about 400 Km east of Freetown; with an estimated local population 360,000. With a huge abundance of arable lands and water, agriculture has always been the core economic activity in the district. The district is highly reputed for its cocoa and coffee production capacity. With many other vegetation such as oil palm doing very well in the district. This notwithstanding, poverty is still very graphic in many communities as most people still go hungry amid all these life-changing resources surrounding them. For instance, people highly depend on imported rice, and owing to the poor road infrastructure, adequate supply of the commodity is not always guaranteed. Here people mainly engage in agriculture for subsistence and their stocks run out pretty fast since the farm lands are often under-utilized. It is mainly against this background that GIZ-EPP deemed it worthwhile to introduce the B-Loop training and coaching program in order to shift farmers focus on the business side of farming rather than mere sustenance. In this piece I have documented my experience in carrying out my task as Private Sector Development Officer as well as the activities targeted beneficiaries undertake in order to make ends meet.