In 2008 the government of Sierra Leone launched the “Agenda for Change” and declared that agricultural development and food security were the “foundation of the country’s economic development and poverty reduction” strategy. Agricultural activities in the country, primarily smallholder farming, represent 70% of all employment in Sierra Leone. Research has shown that more than 500,000 hectares have recently been acquired by foreign investors. Some 20 large investors are currently present in Sierra Leone, such as Swiss Addax Bioenergy, which is producing bio-ethanol for export to Europe.
SiLNoRF has raised concerns about land deals involving such foreign investors, arguing that such deals are going through without the informed prior consent or participation of affected land users or the provision of compensation. Moreover, the way such land is being used is threatening farming livelihoods, drying up water resources, producing food insecurity and violating labour rights. Most of the foreign investors making major land deals in Sierra Leone to date are European or Asian corporations or investment funds. Their focus is on producing commodities for export, not food for the people.
SiLNoRF was founded to raise awareness of threats to the right to food and work and to improve the situation of affected land users, especially in our current operational area, where the Swiss company Addax Bioenergy has leased 50,000 hectares of arable land.
Our advocacy activities focus on: