The Multi Stakeholders Meeting also served as a platform to educate people in the Makeple chiefdom about the New Land Policy.
It is no secret that land dispute has been a burning issue, especially in rural agricultural communities like Makpele chiefdom. These disputes have sometimes led to loss of lives and destruction of properties worth millions of leones.
VGGT’s objective, is to apply and test the Analytical Framework for Due Diligence in Responsible Land-Based Agricultural Investments on a large-scale oil palm plantation by Natural Habitats Ltd, Sierra Leone in Zimmi, Pujehun district.
It is aimed at protecting the land rights, livelihoods and food security of vulnerable people while promoting sustainable businesses. This project is taking advantage of the recent adoption of Sierra Leone’s New Land Policy (NLP) which is inspired by the VGGT promoted by FAO and the Committee of World Food Security.
The project outcome is to formalize the land use rights of landowners as well as enhance the food security situation by supporting the average yield increases of rice, beans and cassava by 50% for smallholders.
The project has proved impactful. Transparency has been enhanced in the acquisition of large-scale agricultural lands by Natural Habitats Sierra Leone Limited through an inclusive approach; the capacity of smallholders has been built on good agricultural practices on the selected crops and a multi-stakeholder platform created for dialogue on land acquisition and community development.
There is also a significant reduction in tension and complaints between landowners and land users in the project area.
Solidaridad works with Natural Habitats Ltd in collaboration with national NGO’s such as NAMATI, WOHRAD, Green Scenery and UNFAO Sierra Leone to apply and test the Analytical Framework for Due Diligence in Responsible Land-Based Agricultural Investments by way of promoting the implementation of the new National Land Policy.
Nicholas Jengre, is the Country Representative of Solidaridad West Africa, at the Zimmi meeting, said protecting community rights to land in Sierra Leone is a new project in the country which is working to protect land rights, livelihoods and food security of vulnerable people while promoting sustainable businesses.
This project, according to him applies the New Alliance Due Diligence Tool within a large-scale agricultural investment and works with local communities and the private sector to safeguard rights to land, adding that the project is supported by the LEGEND Challenge Fund, managed by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, and implemented by Natural Habitats Sierra Leone and Solidaridad.
Already, though this project, Solidaridad has established the first oil palm multi-stakeholder platform in Sierra Leone. This is well represented by different stakeholders, including government, the private sector, community leaders, youth, women groups and other civil society organizations.
Mutually Acceptable Land Acquisition. In recent years, the government of Sierra Leone has taken steps to ensure the process for land acquisition is mutually acceptable to all parties. This process is anchored within the National Land Policy. The National Land Policy is guided by the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security.
The event was graced by stakeholders, including the Paramount Chief of Makpele chiefdom, Pujehun district, Saffa Tamu, Country Manager of Natural Habitats, Sam Mostyn and Hon. Philip Tetema Tondoneh, Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development among other eminent personalities.