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The History of Rice Cultivation in Sierra Leone and its Connection to America.


Rice cultivation in West Africa has an extensive and rich history. Around 3500 years ago Africans in this region began growing rice. Due to the tropical climate in this part of Africa, growing rice became a staple and profitable commodity. At the height of the Atlantic Slave Trade, members from several ethnic groups in and around Sierra Leone were captured, transported, and sold into slavery because of their knowledge of rice cultivation. Many of them were shipped directly to the coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia. The Temne people of Sierra Leone were especially sought after because of their knowledge of growing rice. Upon their arrival, they were forced to grow rice while teaching plantation owners how to dike the marshes and flood the field applying the same methods used in Africa. The colonial South amassed great wealth during the 18th and 19th centuries and today, Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the wealthiest southern cities in large part due to rice production.
Despite the harsh conditions that enslaved Africans endured in the New World, they still managed to retain much of their culture and identity. In parts of South Carolina, Florida and Georgia, what is now known today as the “Gullah” culture emerged. There are around 200,000 people in this region who identify as Gullah. They speak a similar dialect as the Krios of Sierra Leone which consist of co-opted words and phrases from mainly English, Central and West-African languages.
The Gullah are also known for their basket weaving and storytelling, using the same techniques brought with them from Sierra Leone and other parts of Africa.
Impact Sierra Leone’s partnership with Kampala Agricultural Farm Association (KAF) is not only promoting sustainable development and nutritional health but we are also keeping the rich tradition of rice cultivation alive in Sierra Leone. We believe that this is an art and skill that cannot afford to be lost and it is a way for Africans in the diaspora to connect to their history and be proud of their invaluable contribution to America and the rest of the world.
Our farmers are eager and have been working very diligently the past month to prepare for a great harvest. Featured here in this picture is freshly plowed swamp land ready for rice planting. Thanks to the support of donors like you, the rural farming communities of Rochen-Kamandao and Yonibana, Mile 91 are gearing up to have a promising rice harvest. Very soon, rice and other much needed food items will be available to dozens of families, orphans, widows, and other vulnerable populations in this region. Led by Dr. Mohamed Bangura the Impact Sierra Leone team is on the ground working tirelessly to ensure the success of these efforts and we are excited about what lies ahead.

If you wish to get involved in our farming initiative, you are more than welcome to join our mission!

Written by : Yeabu Conteh

Adama Kalokoh

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