Dissemination of legume technologies to Sub-Saharan farmers by NGOs and research institutes has stimulated farmers to grow grain legumes, thereby providing farmers with substantial harvest and income. During the second quarter of 2012, N2AFRICA a project that provides farmers in Africa with technologies to grow grain legumes extended their project activities to Sierra Leone. N2AFRICA provided Sierra Leonean small scale farmers with the following grain legumes; groundnuts, cowpeas and soybeans, because these legumes are rich in protein and have the ability to fix nitrogen to the soil. After production some of these legumes are consumed by the farmers and the rest is sold. Therefore N2AFRICA decided to research the value chains of the mentioned legumes from inputs to the final consumer. This research investigates the value chains of the groundnut, cowpea and soybean in Sierra Leone.
The research identifies the functions, actors, supporters and influencers in the above mentioned chains. The roles of the various actors and their relationship were also taken into consideration and the identification of market opportunities of these crops was also considered. The study was carried out in Freetown, Makeni, Kambia, Kabala, Bo and Njala. These are the areas associated with the cultivation of the mentioned crops. The duration of the research was six weeks. The chosen methodology was the use of key informants, experts in Sierra Leone, supported with literature and a checklist used in semi structured interviews. The tools used during the research were the Rapid Market Appraisal, Value Chain Map and Estimating Cost and Margins. The rapid market appraisal aids in designing a market model within a limited time frame, however prior knowledge of the sector is required. The value chain map aids in visualizing the sector, by identifying the different core processes, the actors, the supporters and enablers in the sector. The estimation of cost and margins gives an overview of the cost secured by the actors in the chain. It was found that the Ministry of Agriculture Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) and Non Governmental Organisations(NGOs) donated inputs such as seeds, tools and agro processing equipment as gifts to farmers and research institutes provided farmers with improved seeds.
It was found that the producers of groundnuts can be dived into three groups; independent small scale farmers, Farmer Based Organisation (FBOs) and a commercial farmer, of which, the major producers are small scale farmers. The results indicated that groundnut production contributes the most to the agricultural sector followed by cowpea; the current contribution of soybean is zero as there is no soybean production in the country outside the research trials and seed multiplication.
After harvesting, value addition of the mentioned legumes is minimal. In the case of groundnuts, most of the farmers prefer to sell the unshelled groundnuts at the farm as seeds to seed dealers and as grains to merchant traders because of the following factors; inaccessible roads to the farms and the farmers lack the funds to purchase groundnut shelling equipment from agro –dealers. However the MAFFS and NGOs are in the process of providing farmers with value addition equipment. However the merchant traders, market women and small scale processors are involved in the value addition. In the groundnut chain the market trader adds 45% value to the crop, by grinding it into a paste and in the cowpea chain the farm adds 43% value to the crop by cultivating, drying and packaging the beans.