- Swamp rice offers tropical populations the most feasible means
of obtaining a dependable and plentiful supply of protein-rich cereals.
An acre of swamp rice land will support many persons and the crop
does not cause erosion. A further production of this type of rice appears
warranted in Sierra Leone and perhaps in other areas in Africa
where the soils and terrain are suitable and there is enough water.
This study surveys economic, political, and physical problems
involved in the cultivation of swamp rice in Sierra Leone and is an
interpretative research project based on information obtained by interviews
and study in the field during a visit to that country. Library
research was also utilized, but only for general background, because
little material about swamp rice in Sierra Leone is available. In
Sierra Leone agricultural reports, land surveys, and scientific articles
were consulted and discussed with their authors. Interviews
were held with Government Ministers, Agricultural Officers,
scientists, political and economic experts, and rice growers and
As a result of these investigations it appears that swamp rice is
an excellent crop for Sierra Leone, for it can be grown in reclaimed
mangrove swamps and coastal grasslands, and does not cause erosion
as does upland rice. Adequate acreage remains available for future
development of swamp rice farming. The climate is well suited to
rice growing, and the coastal soils are fertile.
Moderate capital investment will be required for the reclaiming
of the southern mangroves, the clearing of grasslands, the building of
empolders to keep out salt water, the drainage of permanently-flooded
swamps, and small dams or bunds for flood control on some of the
The problem of land tenure in Sierra Leone, however, is a serious
one. Litigation over land ownership is especially prevalent in the
north where the farms are small and virtually owned by individual
families. In the south rice schemes have been developed as cooperatives
on unused land owned communally by the tribes. In this area the
matter of individual incentive is an important consideration.
Another inhibiting factor is the labor supply, which in the swamp-rice farming areas is inadequate for further land development. Newcomers
are resented in local areas and, moreover, the rigors of
swamp farming discourage settlement. The improving educational system has had an effect of reducing the local labor supply. High
wages and prices may be the best way to encourage people to farm
The long-run market potential for swamp rice is favorable, especially
within Sierra Leone itself and in Africa. Many people in
Africa are already turning to rice as a staple in their diet.