From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Sierra Leone's Agriculture Minister Faces Parliament
By Mohamed Kanu & Augustine Samba
Mar 5, 2010, 17:26

The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay, has appeared before the House of Parliament to explain the export and exploitation of all rubber plantations in the Pujehun and Kenema districts by companies and land owner.

Minister Sam Sesay told Parliamentarians on Thursday 4th March 2010 that there were a lot of controversies surrounding the five government owned rubber plantations in previous years. "This situation forced my Ministry to place a ban on rubber plantation companies in order to put mechanisms in place for government to yield profit" he explained, adding: "When the ban was lifted, 3000 metric tons was exported by rubber companies in 2009 and US$1,500 (One Thousand Five Hundred United States Dollars) was realized the government on taxes levied on the rubber exported".

According to him, the countryís rubber plantations were too old to produce any significant revenue.

He pointed out that Sierra Leone now records close to 2000 acres of rubber plantations owned by the government, whilst adding that most of the plantations were cultivated in 1964 and need replacement.

The Agriculture Minister expressed disappointment over the rampant smuggling of rubber from Sierra Leone to Liberia, which, according to him, has contribution to the exploitation of rubber plantations in the country.

According to the Minister, "A very vibrant cabinet committee and task force has been set up to look into issues relating to the production, management and economic benefit of rubber".

Minister Sesay furthered that the committee is also tasked with the responsibility of making rubber plantation beneficial to the government through private or public ownership.

Hon. S.J Momoh of the Sierra Leone Peopleís Party (SLPP) said the rubber plantations in the country continue to benefit individuals at the detriment of the government and land owners.

It was finally resolved by parliamentarians to set up a parliamentary inquiry to look into all government owned investments including rubber.

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