The quarterly Sierra Leone Market Price

Sierra Leone | Quarter 2, 2023


  • The Leone (SLe) continued to depreciate against the United States Dollar (USD) by 60 percent compared with June 2022 to June 2023. Sierra Leone is among countries in West Africa showing of the highest depreciation of the domestic currency against foreign currencies. 
  • The national headline inflation reached 44.8 percent and food inflation rose to 58 percent in June 2023.
  • The prices of a kilogram of imported and local rice both increased by 14 percent compared with the previous quarter and increased by 53 percent and 39 percent respectively year on year. 
  • The purchasing power of the average Sierra Leoneans continued to depreciate due to increase in prices of key staples. A daily labour wage could purchase 2kg of imported rice compared to 2.2kg during the same period last year.  

Economic outlook 

Sierra Leone economy continues to suffer from high inflation rates largely stemming from depreciation of the national currency. The year-on-year headline inflation stood at 44.8 percent in June 2023 with an increase of 0.38 percentage point from 44.43 percent in May 2023, during the same period the food inflation increased from 55.7 percent in May 2023 to 57.9 percent in June 2023 1. Continuous inflation is challenging households’ ability to access sufficient nutritious food. The continuation of barriers to regional trade (illegal levies, taxes, and bans on grain exports); rising transport costs; currency depreciation and the impact of the Russia Ukraine war on market volatility in global markets are major elements behind increases in prices in local markets. According to FAO, because of the inflationary pressures, prices of the main cereals are 25 percent to 40 percent higher than the average of the last five years, with peaks in Ghana (100 percent), Sierra Leone (100 percent), Burkina Faso (50 percent), and Nigeria (50 percent)2. The impact of high inflationary trends is reflected on food security levels in the country in which 78 percent of Sierra Leoneans are food insecure, including one in five (20 percent) severely food insecure and 80 percent unable to afford a healthy diet according to results from Food Security Monitoring Survey conducted by Ministry of Agriculture and WFP in February 2023 [1].

The annual depreciation of the Leone against the United States Dollar stood at 60 percent from SLe13.1 in June 2022 to SLe21.0 in June 2023, however, the country witnesses a slight appreciation of the national currency when compared to the previous month from SLe22.7 in May 2023 to SLe21.0 in June 2023.

  1. Stats SL CPI ( WAMZ Exchange Rates ( 
  2. Food Security Update (June 5, 2023) World | ReliefWeb

Food Commodity Prices

The price of local and imported rice increased nationally by 39 percent and 53percent respectively, from June 2022 to June 2023. The prices of both local rice and imported rice increased by 14 percent nationally when compared to the previous quarter. The highest increment for imported rice were recorded in Bo, Pujehun, Bombali, Tonkolili and Kailahun district (67 percent) in which the price of a kilogram of imported rice reached Le 20 in June 2023.  The increase in the price of imported rice is due to high freight cost and depreciation of the national currency when compared to the United State Dollar.

Cassava and its processed products such as gari and foofoo the second most common staple food are in high demand when the price of rice is increasing. Overall, the prices of both cassava and gari skyrocketed by 91 percent and 321 percent respectively year on year, depicting high demand for the products within the period. The cost of one kg Gari and imported rice were the same.

The average price of a kilogram of palm oil and vegetable oil in June 2023 shows an increase of 58.5 percent and 32.2 percent respectively when compared to June 2022, however, within the second quarter of 2023 the price of palm oil decreases by 20 percent when compared to the first quarter of 2023 in line with previous seasonal trends. At district level the annual price increase of palm oil was predominant in the following districts Kambia (80 percent), Kono (66.7 percent), Port Loko, Bo and Bombali (63.6 percent). 

Purchasing power of Unskilled Wage worker 

Figure 4 depicts the Terms of Trade (ToT) of daily wages of unskilled workers to the main Sierra Leonean staple food items. The ToT compares the amount of commodity that an unskilled wage worker can exchange with their daily wage labour. The ToT for imported and local rice shows a diminishing trend (a worker gets less rice for a day’s worth of labour) when compared from June 2022 to June 2023, the main reason for the year-on-year decrease is due to the increase in price of both imported and local rice against stagnant wages. From figure 1 above 2.2 kilograms of imported rice was exchanged for the daily wages of unskilled workers in June 2022, falling to 1.9 kilograms in June 2023, similar reduction is shown for local rice from 2.0 kg in June 2022 to 1.8 kg in June 2023.This has further increased the economic vulnerability of most Sierra Leoneans and has reduced their purchasing power to meet their basic food needs.

Currency Exchange Rates

According to the Bank of Sierra Leone, the Leone (SLe) depreciated by 60 percent year on year against the United States Dollar, as depicted in figure 5. The main factor causing depreciation is the increase in the price of imported goods due to global inflationary trends. Considering Sierra Leone depends largely on other countries for international trade to meets the essential needs of her citizens the continues depreciation of the local currency will eventually worsen the preexisting vulnerability and food insecurity.


The national inflation of food and non-food items stood at 44.8 percent in June 2023 with an increase of 0.38 percentage point from 44.43 percent in May 2023.The food and nonalcoholic beverages inflation rates continue to increase over time. The national food and beverages inflation for June 2023 is 57.9 percent, up by 2.18 percentage points from 55.81 percent in May 2023. Sierra Leone is among countries with high food and nonfood inflation in the subregion due to increases in commodity prices and reliance on imports. The inflationary pressure has worsened the economic vulnerability of most Sierra Leoneans and has negatively impacted their overall food insecurity.


The volatility in global food and commodity prices continue to undermine economic stability and food security of most countries in the world, although the global food prices are decreasing[2]  most developing countries still faces high food prices due to persistent increase in local prices because of supply chain distortion coupled with depreciation of local currencies and persistent rise in inflation. Sierra Leone is among countries that have been significantly affected by this trend. 

The table below gives a snapshot of the current prices in Leone and United States Dollar of key staples across the country and shows the change in prices when compared to the average of the preceding month, three months average change to the current, six months average change to the current month and annual average change to current month. The table also shows the change direction of prices in which a change greater than 5 percent is regarded as increase, less than 5 percent is normal and below zero is a decrease.

[1] WFP Food Security Monitoring Survey Report February 2023

[2] FAO Food Price Index | World Food Situation and Agro commodity market price study of PEMSD

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Application of Fertilizer

METHODS OF FERTILIZER APPLICATION The different methods of fertilizer application are as follows: a) Broadcasting It refers to spreading fertilizers uniformly all over the field. Suitable for crops with dense stand, the plant roots permeate the whole volume of the soil, large doses of fertilizers are applied and insoluble phosphatic fertilizers such as rock phosphate are used. Broadcasting of fertilizers is of two types. i) Broadcasting at sowing or planting (Basal application) The main objectives of broadcasting the fertilizers at sowing time are to uniformly distribute the fertilizer over the entire field and to mix it with soil. ii) Top dressing It is the broadcasting of fertilizers particularly nitrogenous fertilizers in closely sown crops like paddy and wheat, with the objective of supplying nitrogen in readily available form to growing plants. Disadvantages of broadcasting The main disadvantages of application of fertilizers through broadcasting are: i) Nutrients cannot be fully utilized by plant roots as they move laterally over long distances. ii) The weed growth is stimulated all over the field. iii) Nutrients are fixed in the soil as they come in contact with a large mass of soil. b) Placement It refers to the placement of fertilizers in soil at a specific place with or without reference to the position of the seed.

Placement of fertilizers is normally recommended when the quantity of fertilizers to apply is small, development of the root system is poor, soil have a low level of fertility and to apply phosphatic and potassic fertilizer. The most common methods of placement are as follows: i) Plough sole placement In this method, fertilizer is placed at the bottom of the plough furrow in a continuous band during the process of ploughing. Every band is covered as the next furrow is turned. This method is suitable for areas where soil becomes quite dry upto few cm below the soil surface and soils having a heavy clay pan just below the plough sole layer. ii) Deep placement It is the placement of ammoniacal nitrogenous fertilizers in the reduction zone of soil particularly in paddy fields, where ammoniacal nitrogen remains available to the crop. This method ensures better distribution of fertilizer in the root zone soil and prevents loss of nutrients by run-off. iii) Localized placement It refers to the application of fertilizers into the soil close to the seed or plant in order to supply the nutrients in adequate amounts to the roots of growing plants.

The common methods to place fertilizers close to the seed or plant are as follows: a) Drilling In this method, the fertilizer is applied at the time of sowing by means of a seed-cum-fertilizer drill. This places fertilizer and the seed in the same row but at different depths. Although this method has been found suitable for the application of phosphatic and potassic fertilizers in cereal crops, but sometimes germination of seeds and young plants may get damaged due to higher concentration of soluble salts. b) Side dressing It refers to the spread of fertilizer in between the rows and around the plants. The common methods of side-dressing are Placement of nitrogenous fertilizers by hand in between the rows of crops like maize, sugarcane, cotton etc., to apply additional doses of nitrogen to the growing crops and Placement of fertilizers around the trees like mango, apple, grapes, papaya etc. c) Band placement If refers to the placement of fertilizer in bands. Band placement is of two types. i) Hill placement It is practiced for the application of fertilizers in orchards. In this method, fertilizers are placed close to the plant in bands on one or both sides of the plant. The length and depth of the band varies with the nature of the crop. ii) Row placement When the crops like sugarcane, potato, maize, cereals etc., are sown close together in rows, the fertilizer is applied in continuous bands on one or both sides of the row, which is known as row placement.

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