SAdaptive Crop Research J
f I AND
f Extension (Acre) Project-
I ACRE PROJECT .-I
e :-AND- GROW
S MORE -FOOD- CROPS
Farming in Sierra Leone takes place in five
main ecological zones. Within each zone, there
are major variations in soils and small holders'
These variations result in a wide range of crop
yields per acre.
, A limited amount of technology for production
of improved non-rice food crops (cassava, sweet
potato etc.) has been identified and tested.
As a result, the activities of extension technicians
have been limited to swamp rice and some
cash crops such as coffee, cocoa and oil palm pro-
In 1976, the, Government of Sierra Leone requ
ested assistance from the United States Government
in the area of Agricultural Research and Im-
provement of the Sierra Leone Extension System.
In response the United States Agency for Inter-
national Development (USAID.) the Ministry of
Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and the Njala
University College (NUC) carried out several ana-
lyses to determine the feasibility of undertaking an
agricultural adaptive research and extension pro-
This resulted in a project proposal entitled Adap-
tive Crop Research and Extension (ACRE) Pro-
ject, which sets forth a cooperative effort to develop p
a food crop adaptive research and replicable (app-
licable and repeatable throughout Sierra Leone) de-
livery system responsive to the needs of small
Objectives Of Acre
ACRE Project has the following main ob-
1. To increase agricultural productivity of
2. To increase the income earning capacity of
small farmers as a result of improved and
more productive agricultural practices.
3. To increase export and reduce import of
4. To develop Adaptive Crop Research and
replicable (repeatable) technological de-
livery system responsive to the needs of
small farmers in the rural areas.
The United States Agency for International
Development (USAID), Ministry of Agriculture
and Forestry (MAF) and Njala University College
(NUC) are the Agencies responsible for implemen-
tation of ACRE Project.
The main operational responsibility of the
Project is shared between (MAF) and (NUC)
while assistance in cost of construction, cormmo-
dities, technical training and strategic support
are provided by USAID. A consortium of
Southern University and Louisiana Stare University
(SULSU) have been contracted to furnish technical
expertise and support for the project.
Project Organization and Management
Management of the project is the responsibility
of the Director, assisted by a Research Coor-
dinator and an Extension Coordinator. A Mana-
gement Directorate Committee and a Steering
Committee assist in overall policy decisions that
affect Project operation. Head of the America Team
working with the Project is the Chief of Party.
Areas of Operation:
The Project headquarters and its infrast-
ructural facilities are located at Njala on the
campus of N UC from where it operates in five
main implementation zones. These operational
areas are identified by a circular area whose
radius is twenty five miles with Centres at
Kenema in the Eastern Region, Rokupr, Makeni,
Kabala in the North and Njala itself in the South.
This division carries out research trials at Njala
to identify improved food crop varieties and im-
proved cultural practices. Those that show pro-
mise are tried in all the five implementation zones
to determine how well they are adapted in the
various ecologies. It is information received from
adaptive research trials that extension demonstra-
tions on farmers' fields are put together. The Re-
search Division maintains close contact with other
agricultural research institutions both at National
and International levels. At present it has links
with three main international research institutions
which provide improved varieties of Sweet Potato,
Cassava cultivars, Cowpea and Maiz Seeds.
These food crops are then tested in Sierra Leone
to determine their adaptability to local conditions.
There is also a modern well equipped laboratory
for agricultural research to analyse soil and plant
samples to make fertilizer recommendations for
use by farmers.
This division is a link between research and the
farmer. The overall objective of ACRE is to
provide small holder farmers with improved
varieties and crop production information so as to
increase their crop yield output and net returns.
Therefore, it is the Extension function to bring
to the farmer hew and improved methoJs or
practices in one or more phases of crop pro-
duction, demonstrating the application of new
ideas, and enc,)uraging farmers to adopt then.
The Fxtension division coordinates all the field
activities in the fihe zones.
Each of the five zones is supervised by a
Senior Agricultural Extension Oflicer (SAEO)
who provides administrative and technical sup-
port to the field men- Extension Instructors
within his zone.
The extension worker who is the change agent,
establishes adaptive research and demonstration
trial~on farmers' field, makes intensive farm
visit on scheduled days of the week, thus main-
taining a continuous contact with the farmers.
The target of the ACRE Project is to help all
farmers, but the project cannot work with all of
the farmers at the same time because of limited
staff and resources. It, however, has selected a
group of farmers with whom to work and these
farmers expose ACRE activities to other farmers.
These target groups are called Contact Farmers,
because it is on their fields that trials and de-
montrations are carried out. Besides contact
farmers, the Project also works with a large pool
of INTERESTED FARMERS.
Zonal Multiplication Sites:
The Project has acquired a ten-acre tract of
land in each of the five zones for multiplication
of planting materials (Cassava, Sweet Potato
cultivars etc). This effort by the Project is to
ensure timely free distribution of improved plant-
ing materials to farmers during the growing
At present ACRE has a limited number of
crops. At the initial phase, it was decided to
limit the scope of research and extension work to
major food crops in order to concentrate on
those of primary interest to farmers. These are
Rice, Cassava, Sweet Potato, Cowpea, Maize
There kare two types of minikits One con-
tains small packages of improved seeds and the
other includes cuttings of improved varieties of
Cassava. and Sweet Potatoes. -Farmers are en-
couraged to accept these improved varieties which
are distributed free of charge during Field Days
and Agricultural Shows.
Methods of reaching farmers:
The Project has devised several ways of reach-
ing many farmers. This includes publicity, or-
ganising field days '(on Contact Farmers'. fields
at zonal level), participating at regional shows,
group meetings, conducted tours, discussions and
monthly In-Service Training for farmers.
Impact on farmers:
At present an increasing number of farmers are
seeking information on ACRE Project activities.
Their request for assistance and planting materials
shows that the research trials and demonstrations
conducted on their fields: are creating an impact
on farmers in all of the zones.
More food crops, especially sweet potatoes are
now flowing to Sierra Leone markets.
Adaptive research and other extension activi-
ties have been extended to several hundred farm
families in the five ACRE operational zones.
In the zones these achievements are evidenced
a) The widespread adoption by farmers of im-
proved food crop varieties along with im-
proved cultural practices.
b) The large number of farmers attending ACRE
'meetings and field days, seeking informa-
tion about ACRE activities.
Sc) Farmers' awareness of the. usefulness of
fertilizers, its proper and timely applica-
d) Farmers' confidence in ACRE Extension
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
THE PUBLICITY OFFICER
THE ACRE PROJECT ZONAL
MAKENI, KABALA, ROKUPR
ACRE PROJECT ZONES-
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