Sierra Leone, like most developing countries is primarily agricultural, with about 75 percent of its population getting its living from farming. The main characteristic of its farming is the large number of small holdings-averaging about two hectares per farm. Most of these farms are fragmented. Large-scale farming is a fairly recent development and the few large farms are either government or quasi-government institutions, confined to crops that require expensive machinery and timely processing. In the country's search for new sources of economic expansion, agriculture assumed first priority. This was due, in part, to the fact that a large percentage of the population derived its living from agriculture. In addition, the development of agriculture has proven to be the safest and most stable avenue for increasing rural income and employment and improving the shortage of foreign exchange. Until the mid-1950's, Sierra Leone had been a net exporter of rice. Since 1955, however, domestic production has fallen short of domestic demand. This lag in production has been blamed on insufficient attention to agriculture coupled with unfavorable producer prices for most agriculture products. The achievement of self sufficiency in rice has been an important politico-economic goal for policy makers of the government of Sierra Leone.