Research: Attracting investors! Large scale land acquisition by foreign investment in Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone is a rich country yet one of the poorest in the world. Rich in resources like diamonds, gold, iron ore, bauxite, and oil, the country is dismally poor in infrastructure, education, health care, and food security. The country continues to wriggle out of a brutal civil war that ended in 2002 using many strategies including a poverty reduction strategy featured as “Agenda for Change”. Corruption is known to be widespread and youth unemployment high.
In the bid to addressing poverty, the current government has placed emphasis on the program “Agenda for Change” and high priority on agriculture as a driver for development. Agriculture employs about half of the country’s working population and is traditionally dominated by subsistence farming. In government’s present thinking, two thirds of the population could profit from a commercialized sector. But supporting smallholders and sustainable agriculture is only one of the focus for government another is large scale land use.
The government’s strategy on large scale land use, calculates on a global trend of Land acquisitions in Africa by foreign investors mainly to plant sugar cane and oil palm for bio fuel production but not only. Foreign investment runs also in rice farming, cassava, fruits, and vegetables for local, regional, and international markets. By using the competitive advantages and incentives strategy, the government is luring multinational companies to take long lease on land and invest in agriculture.
In the North of the country where Addax, a Swiss based company backed by European funding, have acquired 20.000 hectares of land to implement a sugar cane plantation, ethanol distillery and power plant, NGO’s like Madam and the Right to Food Network working with affected communities are already concerned how local communities and farmers could benefit from such development. There are visible signs of disaffection in local communities, which is portending potential conflicts.
In contemporary international debate on the pros, and cons of large scale investment in sugar cane and oil palm mainly for bio fuel and its impact on food security and Human Rights, Green Scenery is engaged in research on land use, policies, social and cultural practices, laws and regulations, agreements, main actors and their approaches as well as in fact finding missions to affected communities. The outcome of the research is to decision makers, the communities, and the media with reliable and credible information on the subject. It is expected that the findings will contribute to a fair public dialogue on the impact of such investment that goes usually along with it and on what could or should be undertaken to ensure that poverty of land users, mainly women, is not increasing.
Green Scenery is experienced in research and advocacy on the mining sector and functions as a national watchdog from a Rights based approach.
Read more of Green Sceneries findings:
UNDERSTANDING LAND INVESTMENT DEALS IN AFRICA. COUNTRY REPORT SIERRA LEONE. Published by Oakland Institute, USA, June 2011.Green Scenery is research partner of Oakland Insitute in Sierra Leone.
More documents are available on www.oaklandinstitute.org
The Socfin Land Deal Missing Out On Best Practices. Report on Fact finding Mission to Malen Chiefdom, Pujehun District, Sierra Leone. From 22-24 April 2011
On the mining sector:
Diamond mining and Human Development in Kono District
Perception Assessment Of Host Communities of Sierra Rutile Mine After Dredge Solondo Capsized
Links on Addax:
MADAM and the Right to Food network
Joan Baxter: Protecting investors, but what about the people?