From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, Urban Farmers Demand Land for cultivation
By Augustine Samba
May 27, 2010, 17:16

Farmers within the Western District have demanded for agricultural land for cultivation. This demand was a sequel to a two-day workshop concluded on Wednesday 26th May, 2010 at the Presidential Lounge National Stadium in Freetown.

The workshop, organized by Freetown Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture Platform (FUPAP) and sponsored by Coopi and Concern Worldwide was aimed at brining the attention of stakeholders, including the Ministries of Lands and Agriculture and the Freetown City Council to facilitate the retrieval of all arable lands belonging to government from encroachers to be reallocated to farmers for cultivation in realization of the food security goal.

In her opening statement, the Western District Agriculture Officer who chaired the occasion, Madam Haja Adama F. Kamara said they were gathered to discuss problems affecting farmers in the Western Area with a view to finding a solution to them. She noted that over the years, rapacious land grabbers have encroached on lands within the Western Area meant for agricultural activities leaving the needy in dire straits. "That is why we have decided to call on government to make efforts to give back those lands to our poor farmers for cultivation", she informed.

Giving a comprehensive overview of the nature of arable lands belonging to government in the Western Areas, the director of Lands Country Planning and the Environment Mr. Augustine Kai Banya expressed that in the 1980s yearly licenses used to be given to farmers to cultivate those wet arable lands but that most converted them into their personal properties. "This caused the problem as such lands are very limited," he iterated, adding however, that the ministry was now working on modalities to own back and re-demarcate all agricultural lands in the Western Area. He also expressed frustration over illegal stone mining, charcoal burning and logging in the reserved forest areas. "But government is also working on modalities to track them down."

Speaker after speaker expressed concern over the ineptitude of both the Lands and Agriculture ministries that has resulted in the rampant land grabbing and degradation in the western area.



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