Past and current governments have put emphasis on the need for self food sufficiency. The Tejan Kabbah led government initiated the food security drive and promised that all Sierra Leoneans would go to bed with their bellies filled by 2007, but many say he was not successful in that move. Also, the current government of Dr Ernest Bai Koroma has initiated plans to ensure food sufficient and this is through the ‘tractorization’ programme.
Sierra Leoneans have also been working towards this direction and this is evident in the Macrogba village in the Yoni chiefdom, northern Sierra Leone, about 80 miles from the capital Freetown.
Investigations conducted by this press showed that the village has over the years been involved in the production of farm rice but there have been problems among them: lack of mechanized farming equipment. Macrogba is the headquarter village of at least 21 villages and is known for its potential in upland rice farming as well as groundnut farming.
Abdul Fullah is former engineer at the Bumbuna hydro project but resigned recently to concentrate on a farming project that could help his people. He now serves as managing director for “Feed My Lamb SL”. It is an agro-Christian farming group with the aim of reaching the provincial populace of Sierra Leone with the word of God for the provision of physical food and spiritual food respectively.
In an interview with Abdul Fullah, the director for the agro-Christian farming group at Macrogba village in the Yoni chiefdom over the weekend, he revealed that the Feed My Lamb SL “is embarking on both manual and mechanized farming [rice and groundnut], with the intension of expanding into cassava and gari production… manufacturing, rural pipe-borne water mini projects and food processing…” Fullah said.
He revealed that the group started on swamp farming with four bushels of rice and since then there had been gradual improvements in terms of crop yield.
At the moment, the group is having over 100 acres of land that is meant for the cultivation of rice and groundnut with future plans to expand on other areas. Farm work is current done manually with voluntary support from villagers.
From interviews conducted with workers on the various farms in Macrogba and another village called Matoneh, there is the urgent need for government’s intervention in the provision of tractors and fertilizers.
Ibrahim Kamara is the extension officer for “Feed My Lamb SL” in Matoneh village and according to him, “this community like other communities in the Yoni chiefdom has seriously thought of contributing to the food self sufficient call made by the current government, but we are faced with a lot of problems, among them the need for tractors and insecticides…” He further said they in the village were appealing to government, through the ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to help in that direction. Ali Bangura is the section chief in Macrogba village. Awoko met him in one of the farms in the village where he said they were facing problems in the village but the most seriously one had to do with the availability of food. “This has made us to be involved in farming so that we can augment government’s effort in providing food for the nation, however there is no fertilizer not to mention of tractors”, the section chief said. Meanwhile, the minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Dr Joseph Sam Sesay in a recent interview with Awoko, revealed that there were conditions to be met before a tractor could be given out by government and that these included the readiness by the farmers to run the operational cost of a tractor. Also, a tractor could only be given to a group or an area that has at least 400 acres of land.
By John Baimba Sesay