Farmers in Sierra Leone laud Solidaridad


September 16, 2019

By Frederick V. Kanneh

Farmers and Solidaridad delegation

Farmers in Sierra Leone, who work with Solidaridad S/L, under the Sustainable West Africa Palm oil Programme (SWAPP) and the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme (CORIP) have expressed gratitude to the organization through the Regional Director.

They expressed the above gratitude during a two- day inspection tour of the West Africa Regional Director, Isaac Gyamfi, from the 10th to 11th September, 2019.

Highlighting the benefits of SWAPP to farmers in Sierra Leone, Satta Lansana, who doubles as group leader for Vaahun oil palm plantation stated that, one of the major benefits of the SWAPP was the “intercropping system.”

She confessed that prior to their partnership with the Solidadaridad S/L, they knew nothing about intercropping, which allows farmers to cultivate different types of crops along within oil palm seedlings.

She stated that intercropping method had boosted them greatly, adding that the corn and peanut they cultivated  alongside  the oil palm seedling, within the past  few months have earned them with substantial amount  of money  that they  would use to take care of their children’s school charges, food and other expenditures.

She added that even though it might take two to three years before they would start harvesting the fruit of the oil palm, but that they would be having other ways of getting income from the said system.

“The sustainable West Africa palm oil programme with Solidadridad is a lifesaving project which we believe is going to help us greatly in different folds,” she said, adding that before now, it was believed that oil palm plantation was mainly for men not for women, but with the inception of the company they have learnt that women can also play great role in oil palm plantation.

Said intercropping has provided jobs for women in the area.

She highlighting some of the challenges they were faced with, ranging from the lack of tools to fertilizers, among several others.

Also highlighting the gains of CORIP, Jeneba Gbessay, head of the Gbandi cocoa farm, said Solidaridad has not only taught them to be self-reliant, but provided them with skills that they would replicate to their different farms and in turn teach their children.

She continued that before the coming of Solidaridad, farmers in Sierra Leone viewed cocoa plantation as investment that was farfetched because of the duration it takes to start production.

She said the organization has made them to realize that, they would have other benefits from the cocoa farm, while they were still waiting for the fruits of same.

“We have always shy away from cocoa plantation because of the years someone may have to wait before harvest and the efforts that person may put into its plantation, but we now know that one can easily get rid of weed in the cocoa farm with the practice of intercropping,” he said.

On his part, the West Africa Regional Director of Solidadridad, Isaac Gyamfi, stated he was pleased to know that farmers in Sierra Leone have realised that with hard work , they can depend on themselves in terms of food and income, noting that his organization is not like some NGO organizations that would come and establish a certain project for some months and go back leaving  farmers in the same situation they met them.

He continued that Solidadridad is a nongovernmental organization  that  seeks to make farmers self-reliance through empowerment, adding that part of the empowerment is to provide farmers with the required seedlings and teach them the required skills.

He added that the root cause of poverty in Africa is the fact that people always underestimate “unity”, and that most Africans focus on theory than practical.

He stated that if group of individuals come together and embark on oil palm plantation for example, the said group would enrich themselves with the proceeds of that plantation.

“I am so happy to know that you people have learnt from Solidaridad the act of self-reliance, but you can only achieve that through unity. There is a proverb in our language which says {one man hands cannot cover the face of God}. It simply emphasises the importance of unity in life. Also, we as an organisation want to teach you these methods in order for you to replicate it in your various farms,” he said.

He further said that he was generally impressed with the work of the farmers and by extension the staff of Solidaridad  Sierra Leone together with their implementing partners (Send Foundation, FC SAAD, Gold Tree) .