Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The more than 800 small-scale farmers belonging to co-operatives around the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) capital, Kinshasa, could produce enough rice and vegetables for the capital's estimated eight million inhabitants, according to the country's agriculture ministry.

However the farmers say they cannot effectively work the land without any long-term prospects or stability. The land is being steadily being taken away from them and sold off for new construction, especially in Mimoza, Maluku, Mpasa, Bandalungwa, N'Sele and Kingabwa, which are rural areas around the capital.

The situation is especially sad for Françoise Makulu, a vegetable farmer. "For over five years, I produced more than 200 kilos of vegetables each season on just 100 square metres of land, at the nursery across the road from the Kinshasa Higher Institute of Commerce," she said."But a year ago, the nursery was sold to Lebanese traders who, in a matter of weeks, have put up four buildings there," she tells IPS."My annual harvest allowed me to meet all the food needs of my family, to pay rent for the house we live in and to pay all my children's school fees,"

Génie Kamanda, who has been farming rice in N'Sele for over five years, has this to say, "Taking land from small-scale farmers who are playing their part in the fight against hunger simply leads to greater food insecurity in our country..."

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