More than 100 farmers engaged in agriculture activities on a 75-acre swamp land in Zubah Town, Duport Road, Paynesville, are likely to cease from growing crops this farming season if the Liberian government does not intervene in the land crisis, the farmers are currently going through.
The farmers have accused one Madam Oretha Logan, who allegedly took them to the Civil Law Court in Monrovia for using the land she alleged as her personal property.
They disclosed that on many occasions, they have been harassed by this lady who, according to them, insists that farming activities must stop until the matter is resolved through the laws.
The farmers are members of the Community of Hope Agriculture Project (CHAP).
The CHAP farming program was introduced in 2010 with support from the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and the United States Agencies for International Development (USAID).
It was meant to demonstrate agriculture production in urban settlements for food security enhancement.
This project was highlighted in President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s 2010 Annual Message to the nation as one of her government’s achievements in the fight against hunger.
However, it is reported that the MoA has since ceased its support toward the program.
The Board Chairman of CHAP, Mr. James Bimba, in an exclusive interview on Tuesday told the Daily Observer that the situation concerning the farmers was taken to court since 2008 but not much effort has been applied by government to address the situation.
“Since five years ago, we were taken to court by Madam Logan for occupying the land she says is her property but government has done nothing to put the matter to rest. Madam Logan usually visits the farm to intimidate us from growing our crops, saying that no farming activities should be carried out until otherwise order,” he sadly disclosed.
According to Mr. Bimba the vast swampland was given them to cultivate through permission from the management of the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC).
He stated that matter has since reached the attention of the PCC but yet to get a favorable response.
“We want PCC to step in quickly to put this long matter to rest because they give us the permission to use the land,” he said.
Mr. Bimba strongly argued that swampland is public land and as such it surprises him that someone could be claiming ownership.
“There is a document in our possession from PCC that gave us the right to use the land for agriculture purposes,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bimba has disclosed that the CHAP project is faced with several constraints such as the lack of financial aid and basic farming implements.
“We want the Government of Liberia, through the MoA to provide support toward the project,” he stressed.
He also disclosed that seed rice harvested at last farming season has not being purchased as there is no buyer.
“We are indeed discouraged about agriculture activities in this country because there is no market to sell our produce,” he lamented.
When contacted, the Public Relation Officer of the PCC, Jani K. Jallah, disclosed that the concern of the farmers has reached the office of the Mayor of Paynesville.
She said investigation into the matter will shortly be launched.
At the same time, Madam Logan, who is claiming the land, told our Agriculture Reporter that the land belongs to her grandparents.
“The land is 75 acres bought by my grandparents with a document that I have presented before the court,” she said.
She confirmed that the matter is at the Civil Law Court pending speedy investigation.
“I have stopped the farmers from trespassing on my land until the court can established the issue,” she said on the phone.