Since over 60 percent of the population of Sierra Leone is usually engaged in agriculture, during the 1970s efforts were made by the government to increase productivity in food crops and achieve self-sufficiency, especially in rice production. However, the government's emphasis on cash crops, and overall poor agricultural planning tends to relegate agriculture to a secondary role. Rice accounts for approximately 40 percent of the value of the output of food crops. Other food crops include cassava, millet, sorghum, peanuts, beans, and corn, among others. Livestock (cattle, goats, and sheep) and fishing are also of importance to the economy.
According to Background to Sierra Leone, a 1980 publication of the Sierra Leone government, agricultural development was a priority in the 1970s. Accordingly, the government launched a series of Integrated Agricultural Development Projects (IADPs) aimed at maximizing agricultural production in individual regions of the country. The projects included a detailed study of a region's agricultural need and potential, as well as assistance to small farmers. Farmers were encouraged to use fertilizers and equipment together with advice on improved methods of cultivation. However, the economic dislocation of the 1980s, coupled with the war of the 1990s, have effectively undermined progress in agricultural development. Little has been done to improve the sector at the beginning of 2000.