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Mountain Lion Agriculture

Rice is a staple grain in Sierra Leone, but high import prices and low local production are threatening the nation’s food security. Local smallholders lack access to high-quality inputs like seeds or equipment, and the impacts of climate change are making it ever more challenging to grow rice. Once they harvest their crops, farmers do not have a means to process the grain and bring it to the local market. Mountain Lion Agriculture (MLAG) is an agricultural SME tackling the country’s food shortage by investing in smallholder farmers, connecting them to markets, and boosting local production. In 2017, Cordaid Investment Management (CIM) provided a first working capital loan to MLAG, supporting the business in reaching 6,100 farmers as they faced the dual challenges of climate change and lack of market access. MLAG operates a research farm and agronomic extension program to train farmers in adopting climate smart agricultural practices. MLAG received external financing in 2020 to install a new mill that would increase processing capacity to five tons of rice per hour. CIM provided additional working capital, which has allowed MLAG to expand its outgrower program and maximize the utilization of the upgraded rice mill. MLAG now reaches over 8,000 farmers and has to keep its mill operating for months after the harvest season has ended in order to process all of the rice it has collected. “CIM’s flexibility and responsiveness to the constant challenges we face have been an enormous help,” explains Jason Dudek, one of the MLAG’s founders. “This dynamic is made possible by incredible local staff that understands our business and the local context. Our partnership allowed us to double our production and reach thousands more smallholders this year.”

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