Sierra Leone News: 300,000 farmer-miners in Salone

By Betty Milton

Wednesday February 15, 2017

The Africa Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) recently conducted an impact study of expanding artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) on small holder agriculture in West Africa: a case study of Sierra Leone.

The report reveals an estimated 9 million people are directly engaged in ASM across 45 countries. It is estimated that Sierra Leone is home to about 300,000 including family members of miners and those engaged in miniature jobs for the miners. These people are engaged in artisanal mining and these activities are done on a full time basis or as a means of supplementing incomes from farming and other activities.
Miningfact.Com defines Artisanal and Small-scale mining as informal mining activities carried out using low technology or with minimal machinery. It is estimated that more than 100 million people rely on this sector for income, mainly in developing nations. In some areas ASM takes place alongside large-scale formal mining leading to conflicts. The website states this study was commissioned by ACET in partnership with Ford Foundation against the backdrop of the effect of ASM effects on agriculture.
At the Hill Valley Hotel on Tuesday, members of ACET, a company based in Ghana, engaged stakeholders on the survey and recommendations proffered by the report.

Kai Bockarie, a farmer in Kono, complained about the lack of enforcement of laws that should protect famers. He said, “It has exposed to us that our authorities talk about agriculture but the laws that should govern the sector are not being implemented. Because of the lack of regulations, things are going wrong with farmers.” Highlighting some of the challenges faced by farmers, Bockarie said, “Farms become smaller for us because the miners dig the land that ends up becoming artificial ponds. This serves as breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which have health implications on us. Also the kids get drown in these holes because they are left open.”

The farmer stated. “In the process of digging, they divert the natural streams, which eventually leads to streams and wells drying up. This affects the people in the villages because they rely on water in the streams as that is what they use to cook, drink, wash and launder. Sometimes they do mining from the source where the water flows this process contaminates the water and its affect the communities.”

Presenting the report, Head of Geology Department of FBC, and researcher for Dr. Mustapha Thomas said, to support broad-based poverty reduction in Africa, smallholder agriculture must be at the center of massive investment.

Gender mainstreaming, it is reported, is crucial and it should be examined as 80% of small farmers in Africa are women.

The objective of the study is to assess the current relationship between ASM activities and small-holder agriculture with a view of determining whether the two practices can sustainably provide complementary livelihoods in rural communities, where ASM activities are widespread.

The report recommended that government should prioritise the promotion of the smallholder commercialisation programmes that contain key strategic goals including improvement of feeder roads, microfinance and marketing. There was also the recommendation of strict enforcement of the laws that required licensed miners of every description to reclaim mined out sites and return the land to their predevelopment state through rehabilitation.

Research and Policy Analyst, ACET, Maame Esi Eshun, said the finding from the Sierra Leone study is similar with that of Ghana. Artisanal mining is a major source of employment for people and it provides livelihood and employment opportunity for others. Adding, “It is also evident that artisanal mining has a huge impact on the environment, land, water… but mostly on agriculture.”

 

Original post at Awoko

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