Accessing land for agriculture is posing a serious challenge for some peri-urban farmers (farmers living in cities and outside cities) in the country.
Speaking to the Daily Observer recently, Alexander Moannah, head of a vegetable farming group in Mount Barclay outside Monrovia, said there are many abandoned plots of land outside several urban settlements that could be used for farming, but these lands are not available to farmers.
“Most of the farmers are poor and lack the income to purchase land to use for farming. Renting farmland is not secure as landowners take away their land anytime they wish.” Furthermore some rental fees are unaffordable. He observed that the lowlands (swamps) in many urban or peri-urban communities are nowadays used for construction purposes.
According to Moannah, there are more than one hundred farmers in the Mount Barclay community who are finding it difficult to access land to grow their crops every farming season.
“We are being charged L$2,500 for every crop harvested during each farming season which many times lower our income and profit. We want the government to engage people who bought land and are not using it to allow us to farm at affordable cost. These lands have been around for a very long time without being put to use,” he added.
Alfred Belewolgia, a vegetable farmer in Mount Barclay, added: “To get land to plant vegetables is not an easy task. If you are lucky to get the land, the fee some landowners request is really high. Some even request your first harvest during the farming season. These conditions cause us to earn too little and leave us unable to fully meet the needs of our families,” says Belewolgia.
“Our farming activities are based on the decisions of landowners. When landowners start their construction projects we have to relocate because we cannot afford to buy farming land,” Veria Flomo, a mother of four, said.
Meanwhile, the farmers are appealing to the Ministry of Agriculture and non-governmental organizations to assist them with farming tools, insecticides and fertilizers to increase their produce.