Agriculture is the largest sector in the economy of Sierra Leone, employing approximately 75 percent of the population in 1972 and accounting for over 30 percent of the gross domestic product. But though the national economy has grown at an estimated 4.3 percent rate in the last decade, the agricultural sector is estimated to have grown only 1.6 percent per year. The government of Sierra Leone, recognizing the importance of the agricultural sector and the need to develop policies to encourage its growth, has set a goal of increasing the growth rate of the sector to 4.6 percent per annum. Central to the overall agricultural development plan is the emphasis on increased rice production. Rice is the staple food in Sierra Leone, grown by over 80 percent of the farmers. To achieve self-sufficiency in rice production, the government has attempted to formulate policies which both increase rice production and improve efficiency in rice processing.