From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, Rural Women Farmers demand Parliamentary action to end hunger
By Mohamed Kanu
Oct 19, 2010, 17:18

In commemoration of the fifth World Womenís Day of October 15th, and in recognition of their key role in supporting the efforts of Food Security drive in the country through practical endeavour and awareness raising to policy makers for the wider public, Rural Women Farmers in collaboration with Action Aid International-Sierra Leone on Friday called on Members of Parliament, especially the Oversight Committee on Agriculture, Land, Country Planning and Environment to make it a matter of urgency now to look into the draft document before the House since 2008 that clearly state their demands and how the government can solve them. The ceremony which was held at the Ramsy House at Liverpool Street in Freetown had as theme "To end hunger, support rural women."

In attendance were stakeholders including parliamentarians, master farmers, student and government functionaries.

Speaking on behalf of Rural Women Farmers and the Hunger Free Women Organization in Moyamba District, Madam Margaret Kai-Mboyawa noted that government through members of parliament should formulate laws for women to own land and censure that land owners give land free to women farmers for cultivation without pre-condition. She also agitated that government removed tariffs on rice and to impose restrictions on cross border trade in our staple food.

She particularly demanded of government to review land use policies with such companies as Magbass Sugar Complex in the north, the Koidu Holdings in the east and Sierra Leone Rutile in the south to favour women farmers and land owners, while entreating on laws that can put a stop to the use of dangerous chemicals by those companies.

For the above to be achievable, Madam Kai-Mboyawa endeared that Members of Parliament should pass laws that protect their claims as well as the communities if only to realize success Foord Security drive, since according to her, it was now the second time that they were presenting their demand to the MPs. "We can contribute immensely in the socio-economic development of the country and make it a food secured state if only get action from parliamentarians," she noted.

Response, Hon. Dauda M. Konde of the Oversight Committee acknowledged the laying of the draft document before the House. He assured that the committee this time would something about it, adding that meanwhile, the committee would soon embark on depositing suggestion boxes in the provinces to get public view on the allocation of lands to women.

On Koidu Holdings, the MP said the agreement is in public domain meaning the public can access it through Members of Parliament if people want to make input.

He ended by calling on the association to join the National Farmers Association if only to reap more from government agricultural projects.

In his short statement, the executive director of ActAid Mohamed Sillah assured of his organizationís commitment to always supporting women. According to him unless women are capacitated we can not achieve as he said "our food security and stop hunger." He speedily called on governments to review some of its agreements signed with certain companies as he put it, "chemical use by these companies are seriously depreciating the land." He also called on the government to enact laws that will make women gain and have more access to land for free.



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