The district is well known for diamond mining but efforts are underway by residents to pay attention to farming, in an effort to compliment government’s efforts in ensuring food self-sufficiency.
Speaking to Awoko at her farm at Yardu village, few miles from Koidu, Alice Lebbie said she had been involved in farming with her husband for over three years now and that they used to have a bumper harvest each year.
On why she decided to embark on farming instead of concentrating on mining, she told Awoko that mining disappointed people unlike agriculture. “If you plant a seed of rice, you are sure of reaping something encouraging and I have never been disappointed by farming. In mining, you are not sure of getting a diamond where you dig in search of it…diamonds disappoint miners”, she said.
However her efforts are faced with serious problems. She is faced with the problem of hiring manual labour to work on her farm and this is believed to be costly.
Farming is also said to be gradually developing in other chiefdoms within the Kono district like Sando and Gbense chiefdoms. “People have began turning their attention to agriculture and this could be good for our country”, Alice Lebbie revealed.
Esther Fasuluku in Koidu city revealed to Awoko that she owned eleven acres of land in Kono where she was encouraging her colleagues to engage in farming activities, thus contributing in the food security drive by government. “I have plans to improve on that”, Esther disclosed.
The government, through the ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, has put emphasis on its ‘tractorization’ programme, a policy aimed at giving tractors to farmers in the country to help boast agricultural productivity. But this is not available for Alice Lebbie, a small scale upland farmer in the Kono district, Yardu Village.
“We are having problems in the unavailability of tractors from the central government as that could ease the work of farmers not only in Yardu but other part of the district”, Alice said when asked if they were getting support from government .
Coopi is a non governmental organization operating in the district. It is reported to have engaged people in the production of seed rice at a site behind Yardu village but interviews conducted with residents in Yardu showed that people were discouraged to continue in the project due to “the way in which the project was being managed.” Farmers are also faced with problems like the unavailability of fertilizers and farming equipment like hoes and cutlasses.
Madame Alice Lebbie appealed passionately to the government to look into the plight of farmers in Kono district. “Indeed Kono is known for farming but people are beginning to go into agriculture and there is need for government’s support. Let government provide us with seedlings,” she said.
She believed too that if town mining was not controlled within the township of Koidu, it would have an adverse effect on agriculture, “because we cannot farm in a flooded area.”