Palm Oil Rendering

The majority of people in Sierra Leone are too poor to amass food and other supplies for more than even a few days.  This makes it impossible to enforce a hard lockdown for 14 days, as required for the Coronavirus incubation period. The alternative would be either malnutrition or mass rebellion.  

The Government’s attempt to control Covid-19 with travel restrictions and two three-day lockdowns disrupted most people’s lives. However, life goes on for farmers, who are planting small crops of sweet potatoes, Chinese yams, rice, and peanuts, or harvesting palm oil kernels and mangos.  Food and produce markets are open and as crowded and busy as ever. 

Two barefoot youths are pictured treading on freshly-harvested and boiled oil palm kernels, in a cement lined pit. This is the second step to render red palm oil. A staple ingredient in most Sierra Leonean dishes, palm oil is rich in vitamin A and also high in cholesterol. It is an often maligned but a true source of energy here, where other rich foods are either not available or not affordable to most people. As water is added, oil will rise to the surface, where it can be skimmed off to be boiled and further refined.  

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