Farmers in Bombali and Tonkolili districts in northern Sierra Leone have said that land grabbing by multi-national companies and massive timber logging are some of the barriers to sustainable agriculture in the two districts.
One of the aggrieved farmers, Jaria Jalloh, said they are worried that there would be no land for their children to farm in the future as investors, with the aid of government, have grabbed large swathe of land in the districts.
"We have nowhere to farm or even fetch firewood. We are worried that our unborn children will not have land to farm too," she cried, adding that their land was being taken from them with little or no compensation.
Madam Jalloh opined that another hindrance to agriculture was indiscriminate logging in both districts, with the attendant negative effect of soil erosion caused by massive deforestation.
She called for an immediate response from government in a bid to rescue farmers from poverty, and enhance sustainable agricultural practice in the two districts.
The two districts house mining giants African Minerals and Addax Bioenergy, who enjoy a long period of ninety years land lease agreement with the government. The companies have had to contend with agitations from communities, many of whom are aggrieved that they have lost their livelihoods, while being given ridiculous amounts for land rents.
Meanwhile, the District Agriculture Officer in Bombali, Joseph Tholley, said many companies are in the district with a view to invest in agriculture, but that the ministry was careful not to go into agreement with dishonest companies.
"We have been approached by individuals and companies who have vested interest in investing in agriculture in the district,but we are careful that we do not want to go into arrangement with dishonest ones," he said.
BY ALUSINE SESAY