Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa

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Based on field research conducted between October 2010 and January 2011, this report provides new and important information on the social, political and economic implications of current land investments in Sierra Leone.
http://media.oaklandinstitute.org/understanding-land-investment-deals-africa-sierra-leone

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Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa

  1. 1. Understanding Land investment deaLs in africa Country report: sierra Leone
  2. 2. Understanding Land investment deaLs in africa Country report: sierra Leone
  3. 3. acknowLedgementsThis report was researched and written by Joan Baxter under the direction of Frederic Mousseau. Anuradha Mittal andShepard Daniel also provided substantial editorial support.We are deeply grateful to Elke Schäfter of the Sierra Leonean NGO Green Scenery, and to Theophilus Gbenda,Chair of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists for Mining and Extractives, for their immense support, hardwork, and invaluable contributions to this study. We also want to thank all those who shared their time andinformation with the OI researchers in Sierra Leone. Special thanks to all those throughout the country who sogenerously assisted the team. Some have not been named to protect their identity, but their insights and candorwere vital to this study.The Oakland Institute is grateful for the valuable support of its many individual and foundation donors who makeour work possible. Thank you.The views and conclusions expressed in this publication, however, are those of the Oakland Institute alone anddo not reflect opinions of the individuals and organizations that have sponsored and supported the work.Design: amymade graphic design, amymade@gmail.com, amymade.comEditors: Frederic Mousseau & Granate SosnoffProduction: Southpaw, Southpaw.orgPhotograph Credits © Joan BaxterCover photo: Cleared land by the SLA projectPublisher: The Oakland Institute is a policy think tank dedicated to advancing public participation and fair debateon critical social, economic, and environmental issues.Copyright © 2011 by The Oakland InstituteThe text may be used free of charge for the purposes of advocacy, campaigning, education, and research, providedthat the source is acknowledged in full. The copyright holder requests that all such uses be registered withthem for impact assessment purposes. For copying in any other circumstances, reuse in other publications, ortranslation or adaptation, permission must be secured.Please email info@oaklandinstitute.org.The Oakland InstitutePO Box 18978Oakland, CA 94619, USAwww.oaklandinstitute.org
  4. 4. aboUt this reportThis report is part of the Oakland Institute’s (OI) seven-country case study project to document and examineland investment deals in Africa (Ethiopia, Mali, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, and Zambia) inorder to determine social, economic, and environmental implications of land acquisitions in the developingworld.The research team conducted a thorough examination of the actual agreements and the extent and distributionof specific land deals. Through field research, involving extensive documentation and interviews with localinformants, multiple aspects of commercial land investments were examined including their social, political,economic, and legal impacts.The report provides background on the institutional and political context of the country, the currentmacroeconomic situation, the state of food and agriculture, and the current investment climate. Additionally,it documents detailed information regarding four land investment deals currently being carried out in SierraLeone.
  5. 5. Table of ConTenTsEXECUTIVE SUMMARY ....................................................................................................................................................1INTRODUCTION ..............................................................................................................................................................5I. SIERRA LEONE: OVERVIEW Conflict and Recovery ............................................................................................................................................................ 7 Food and Agriculture in Sierra Leone ................................................................................................................................... 8 State of Food Security ............................................................................................................................................................ 8II. SIERRA LEONE: OPEN FOR BUSINESS Agricultural Development Strategy ..................................................................................................................................... 11 Sierra Leone’s Campaign to Attract Investment ..................................................................................................................12 SLIEPA: A Major Player ......................................................................................................................................................... 13 World Bank Group Involvement ...........................................................................................................................................14III. LAND USE AND LAND TENURE IN SIERRA LEONE Land Availability?....................................................................................................................................................................16 Land Tenure Reform – for Whom? ........................................................................................................................................18 Weaknesses in Regulatory Framework ..................................................................................................................................19IV. LAND DEALS IN SIERRA LEONE: CASE STUDIES 1. Addax Bioenergy Sierra Leone Ltd./Addax & Oryx Holdings BV Overview ......................................................................................................................................................................24 Contradictions and Concerns .....................................................................................................................................25 The Community Consultation Process – Transparent and Inclusive?.......................................................................27 Negative Impacts on Local Peoples ...........................................................................................................................29 2. QUIFEL Agribusiness (SL) Ltd. Overview ......................................................................................................................................................................30 Contradictions and Concerns .....................................................................................................................................30 Impacts on Local Farmers...........................................................................................................................................32 3. Sierra Leone Agriculture (CAPARO Renewable Agriculture Developments Ltd.) Overview ......................................................................................................................................................................33 Regulatory Discrepancies ............................................................................................................................................35 Negotiations with Local Peoples ................................................................................................................................35 4. Sepahan Afrique Overview ......................................................................................................................................................................36 Confusion and Contention ..........................................................................................................................................36V. RESPONSIBLE AGRO-INVESTMENT? Failure to Ensure Human Rights Protections .......................................................................................................................38 The World Bank Group: Enabling Irresponsible Agro-Investment.......................................................................................40 World Bank Principles for Responsible Agro-investment .....................................................................................................40VI. CONCLUSIONS .......................................................................................................................................................... 41ENDNOTES ............................................................................................................................................................... 45
  6. 6. List of acronymsA4D Agriculture for DevelopmentABC Agricultural Business CentreAJME Sierra Leone Association of Journalists on Mining and ExtractivesAOG Addax & Oryx GroupAPC All People’s Congress, Sierra LeoneATI African Trade Insurance AgencyAU African UnionCAADP Comprehensive African Agricultural Development ProgramCDM Clean Development MechanismCER Certified Emission ReductionCES Coastal and Environmental Services (South Africa consulting company)COPAGEN Coalition for the Protection of Africa’s Genetic HeritageCrad-l CAPARO Renewable Agriculture Developments Ltd.DACO Development Assistance Coordination Office (Sierra Leone)DEG German Investment and Development FundDFID Department for International Development (UK)EAIF Emerging Africa Infrastructure FundECOMOG Economic Community of West African States Monitoring GroupEIA Environmental Impact AssessmentESHIA Environmental, Social and Health Impact AssessmentFAO United Nations Food and Agriculture OrganizationFBO Farmer-based organizationFIAS Foreign Investment Advisory Service (World Bank Group)GAFSP Global Agriculture and Food Security ProgramGDP Gross Domestic ProductGIEWS Global Information and Early Warning SystemGIZ German International Cooperation (formerly GTZ)GoSL Government of Sierra LeoneGST Goods and Services Taxha Hectare (1 hectare = 2.4175 acres)HIPC Highly Indebted Poor CountriesIAASTD International Agricultural Assessment of Knowledge, Science and Technology for DevelopmentICF Investment Climate FacilityIDA International Development Association (World Bank Group)IFAD International Fund for Agricultural DevelopmentIFC International Finance Corporation (World Bank Group)IIED International Institute for Environment and DevelopmentIMF International Monetary FundITC International Trade CentreLIMS Land Information Management SystemMADAM Mankind’s Activities for Development Accreditation Movement (Sierra Leone)MAFFS Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (Sierra Leone)MCC Millennium Challenge CorporationMIGA Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (World Bank Group)MOU Memorandum of Understanding (and Agreement)MP Member of ParliamentNARP National Agricultural Response Program (Sierra Leone)NASSIT National Social Security and Insurance Trust (Sierra Leone)NEDER Network of Economic and Development Reporters (Sierra Leone)NEPAD New Partnership for Africa’s Development
  7. 7. NGO Non-governmental OrganizationNSADP National Sustainable Agricultural Development Program (Sierra Leone)OeDB Austrian Development BankOI Oakland InstitutePEP Private Enterprise Partnership (IFC, World Bank Group)RABI Remove Administrative Barriers to Investment (IFC / World Bank Group)REDD Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest DegradationROI Return on InvestmentRUF Revolutionary United FrontSCP Smallholder Commercialization Program (Sierra Leone)SHOG Smallholder Outgrower development programSLA Sierra Leone Agriculture (CAPARO Renewable Agriculture Developments Ltd.)SLBC Sierra Leone Broadcasting CorporationSLEPA Sierra Leone Environmental Protection AgencySLIEPA Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion AgencySLIS Sierra Leone Information SystemsSLPP Sierra Leone People’s PartyUN United NationsUNCTAD United Nations Conference on Trade and DevelopmentUNDP United Nations Development ProgramUNFCCC United Nations Framework Convention on Climate ChangeUSD United States dollar(s)WFP World Food Program (United Nations)indeX of tabLes, figUres, boXesTABLE 1. Sierra Leone: Percentage of Food Availability in Nearest Market (284-village survey)TABLE 2. List of Large-Scale Agricultural Investors / Land Deals in Sierra LeoneFIGURE 1. Locations of Sierra Leone Land DealsBOX 1. Sierra Leone at a GlanceBOX 2. Potential Investors in Sierra LeoneBOX 3. Addax – Good Employment Opportunity for Local People?BOX 4. Carbon Credit Schemes: New Dimension to Land Investment Trend?
  8. 8. eXecUtive sUmmary • A lack of transparency and public disclosure exists in all aspects of the four land deals. Land leases are negotiated directly with chiefs and landowners, and As of October 2010, little had been published about the often the signatories do not have copies nor are they scale or number of land deals in Sierra Leone. Only one aware of the terms of the leases or even the land large lease had garnered media coverage – that of the area covered. Only one of the four investors studied, Swiss-based Addax Bioenergy for a 20,000 hectare (ha) Addax Bioenergy, has signed a Memorandum of Un- plantation of sugarcane and production of ethanol for derstanding (MOU) with the government of Sierra export to the European Union, a project for which Sierra Leone (GoSL). As a result, there is little critical or ac- Leone’s President Koroma has shown great support.1 curate media coverage of the land deals, Sierra Leo- neans don’t know how much of their farmland has Based on field research conducted between October already been leased to foreign investors, and there is 2010 and January 2011, this report provides new and no serious public debate on the subject. important information on the social, political and economic implications of current land investments in • Foreign investors often employ local “agents” or Sierra Leone. The report examines how land agreements “coordinators” to identify land for lease and negoti- are being negotiated and the impacts these deals have ate leases with local communities, chiefs, and land- had on local populations. owners. There is evidence that these “agents” take unfair advantage of local traditions, perceptions and The study examines four case studies of foreign vulnerabilities in order to convince local populations investments in land in Sierra Leone by the following that they will benefit from the lease deals, while re- investors: fraining from discussing potential risks such as loss • Addax Bioenergy (Switzerland): 20,000 ha, sugar- of farmland or negative environmental impacts. cane plantations for ethanol production for export to • The GoSL provides myriad financial incentives to Europe encourage foreign investment. General fiscal incen- • Quifel Agribusiness (SL) Ltd. (subsidiary of Quifel tives include a 10-year tax holiday on agricultural in- Natural Resources, Portugal): more than 120,000 vestments in tree crops and rice3 and zero import ha, stated purpose is palm oil production, but com- duty.4 Sierra Leone also allows 100 percent foreign pany now claims to be interested in food production ownership in all sectors, requiring no restrictions on expatriate employees and permitting full repatriation • Sierra Leone Agriculture (subsidiary CAPARO Re- of profits.5 newable Agricultural Developments, UK): 43,000 ha for an palm oil plantation • The regulatory framework for the negotiation of land investments is extremely weak. The policy • Sepahan Afrique (Iran): 10,117 ha, palm oil and rice guidelines and incentives for investors, developed production (appears to be on hold or canceled) by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS), contain a number of loopholes, Fieldwork resulted in the following key findings: and appear to be non-binding.6 Without the estab- • Early 2011, close to 500,000 ha of farmland had lishment of an MOU, the government and people of been leased or were under negotiation for lease in Sierra Leone are vulnerable to environmental degra- Sierra Leone. The figure doubles if all land deals dation and loss of local rights to land. involving foreign carbon credit schemes and “pre- • There is confusion surrounding the purported identified” land availabilities are taken into account.2 “availability” of cultivable land: the oft-quoted no- • Agricultural projects are still in early stages, with tion that 85 percent of arable land in Sierra Leone minimal clearing as of yet. Most of the large agricul- is available to investors appears to be based on out- tural investments in Sierra Leone are still very recent, dated surveys, conducted over thirty years ago, as no signed after 2007, and are not yet fully operational. recent land survey documents have been identified.The Oakland Institute understanding land investment deals in afriCa: sierra Leone | 1
  9. 9. • SLIEPA, Sierra Leone’s investment promotion box” was made available complaint letters received agency, emphasizes opportunities for investors in no response. sugar and palm oil in order to produce raw stock for • To date, none of the four case study investments agrofuel. Two of the investors profiled (Quifel and adheres to the World Bank principles for responsible Addax Bioenergy) have taken out leases allegedly agro-investment, nor do they conform to the set of to produce agrofuels for export7 – utilizing valuable core principles laid out by the United Nations Spe- farmland to produce non-food products while Sierra cial Rapporteur on the Right to Food, to address the Leone is still faced with chronic food insecurity. human rights challenge posed by large-scale land ac- • There is a lack of environmental protection. The quisitions.9 land investments profiled in this study, as well as Based on the findings of this study, OI concludes other private sector projects, have been implement- that several major problems characterize the land ed without due compliance with the Environment acquisition trend in Sierra Leone: Protection Agency Act (2008). The Sierra Leone En- vironmental Protection Agency (SLEPA) is responsi- 1. There is a great lack of transparency and disclo- ble for administering and enforcing the environmen- sure of land deals, to the extent that local commu- tal, social, and health impact assessments (ESHIA), nities cannot make informed decisions regarding which are legally required for all development proj- lease negotiations. ects. However, evidence shows that these assess- ments are non-binding and investors have not been 2. The weak legal framework and lack of inter-agency held accountable to them. coordination within the GoSL leads to weak over- sight of land deals and lack of enforcement of pro- • The ongoing land reform process in Sierra Leone, tections and safeguards. which is supported by the World Bank, is driven by the government’s desire to accommodate foreign 3. Confusion surrounding the “availability” of land investors and facilitate their access to secure land for investment in Sierra Leone poses great risks to holdings. Civil society groups argue that land tenure local communities. Without proper land invento- reforms should be focused, instead, on ensuring eq- ries, smallholders’ land will continue to be infringed uitable access to land for women and youth.8 upon. • Questions regarding investors’ connections to the 4. Land is being cultivated for agrofuel production as government surround Sierra Leone land deals. The opposed to food production for local markets raising law firm of Franklyn Kargbo & Co. represented lo- serious doubts about the value of investments for cal landowners and chiefdom councils in the Addax local food security. deal and represented the foreign investor, Quifel, 5. The manner in which land deals are negotiated in their land lease. At the time of the lease negotia- takes advantage of local vulnerabilities and social tions Franklyn Kargbo was an advisor in the Strategy structures. The process lacks safeguards and griev- and Policy Unit in the Office of the President. Later, ance mechanisms. in December 2010, Franklyn Kargbo was appointed 6. The non-binding nature of Environment Impact Minister of Justice and Attorney General, with a key Assessment requirements, and their lack of enforce- role in the development of land leases and with the ment, allows investors to ignore their responsibili- responsibility of the ongoing land tenure reform pro- ties and the health of ecosystems. cess. 7. Promotion of land investment by the government • Local farmers, landowners and community mem- and the World Bank Group leads to important ques- bers have protested land leases in three of the tions regarding who benefits from these investments four cases studies. In the majority of cases, formal – a small privileged group or the majority of Sierra grievance mechanisms have not been established, Leoneans. and with the Addax Project where a “grievanceThe Oakland Institute understanding land investment deals in afriCa: sierra Leone | 2
  10. 10. 8. Land deals are being negotiated in a manner that members are given their basic right to information so alienates local landowners and creates social con- that they may make informed decisions. In addition, it is flict. Investors are not fulfilling pledges to the com- imperative that the regulatory framework surrounding munity and grievance mechanisms are not being land investments be improved, and stipulations made honored. binding for investors. Given this range of problems, the conditions Third, NGOs, international institutions, and other civil surrounding agricultural investments in Sierra Leone society advocates for human rights have a role to play are ripe for exploitation and conflict. in educating and assisting local communities who are affected by land deals or who may be affected in Improving the current situation in Sierra Leone will the future. Community consultation measures must require cooperation from a number of actors and be improved and the establishment of grievance institutions. First, the World Bank Group and its mechanisms must be enforced. Further, international agencies (International Finance Corporation (IFC) and agencies must lend their expertise to the GoSL in Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), leading a land tenure reform process that emphasizes among others) must apply their own Performance equitable and secure land access for all Sierra Leoneans, Standards to their investment projects, their advisory including women. services, and the technical assistance they provide. Finally, there is an urgent need for all parties to assist Second, the GoSL and related agencies (such as with and carry out comprehensive land-use surveys SLIEPA) must allow for transparency and full disclosure and mapping. It is imperative that the government of regarding land investments to ensure that community Sierra Leone document current patterns of land use, vegetation cover, and water resources. A clear definition should be established to classify “used” versus “available” land; this should consider the full range of uses involved in smallholder farming, including the bush fallow system. Until these recommendations are implemented, and until a complete inventory of foreign land holdings in the country is carried out and made public, international institutions and donor partners should discontinue support for large-scale land acquisitions in Sierra Leone. Woman farming on Addax leased land - unaware of the projectThe Oakland Institute understanding land investment deals in afriCa: sierra Leone | 3
  11. 11. FIGURE 1: Locations of Sierra Leone Land Deals
  12. 12. introdUction Around the world, fertile land is being made available Sierra Leone is still struggling to rebuild after an 11- to investors, often in long-term leases and at giveaway year civil war, which lasted from 1991 until early 2002. prices. This trend, commonly referred to as “land- The brutal conflict was fueled by “blood diamonds”20 grabbing” by its critics, gained traction after the global and long-standing grievances regarding inequitable food and fuel crisis of 2008.10 By the end of 2009, such distribution of power and resources in the country. The investment deals covered 56 million ha of farmland war decimated the nation’s infrastructure, agriculture, around the world.11 Corporations, fund managers, and the well-being of its people.21 and nations anxious to secure their own future food security have sought and secured large land holdings In some ways, Sierra Leone has since demonstrated for offshore farms, or simply for speculation. The positive recovery. There have been two democratic United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization elections and economic growth, yet Sierra Leone still (FAO) has suggested that this can engender a “win- remains one of the least developed countries in the win” situation,12 and the World Bank has laid out a set world.22 The government has made food security one of principles for “responsible agro-investment”13 that in of its main priorities; but at the same time it strongly theory, could make this the case.14 promotes foreign investment with large land leases and plantation agriculture - mostly for export. However, many civil society and human rights groups, smallholder farmer associations, and scientists This report is divided into four sections. The first disagree. They argue that “land-grabbing” threatens section provides a contextual overview of the political food security and the human right to food and land. and macroeconomic situation of the country as well as They call instead for investment in and support for the current state of food and agriculture. The second smallholder agro-ecological farming systems.15 section provides an institutional overview which examines Sierra Leone’s current “investment climate”; Africa has been a particular target of land- and water- this includes information on the country’s current hungry investors, comprising more than 70 percent agricultural development strategy, its campaign to of the investors’ demand.16 They are welcomed with attract foreign investment, and the involvement of many appealing fiscal incentives and strong investor external institutions, particularly the World Bank Group. protection in Sierra Leone, a small West African country The third section examines land use and land tenure of just 72,000 square kilometers (km2). President and the “availability” of cultivatable land, discussing Ernest Bai Koroma makes no secret that he believes reform, and the regulatory framework governing land foreign investment is the answer to his country’s many investments in the country. The fourth section presents development challenges.17 The government as well as the four case studies of land deals examined during OI SLIEPA claim that only 12 to 15 percent of the country’s fieldwork. A fifth section outlines ways for agricultural arable land is being “used” or “cultivated,”18 implying land acquisitions to be conducted in a potentially that the rest is available for investors.19 equitable manner and how land deals in Sierra Leone fall short of these recommendations.The Oakland Institute understanding land investment deals in afriCa: sierra Leone | 5
  13. 13. i. sierra Leone: overviewSierra Leone is a small West African nation bordered deposits of diamonds, bauxite, rutile (titaniumto the west by the Atlantic Ocean, to the north and dioxide), iron ore and chromite.23 Its lands, particularlynortheast by Guinea, and to the south and southeast the inland valley swamps and “bolilands” (floodplainsby Liberia. Sierra Leone is richly endowed with natural and lowlands that flood each year), are well-suited toresources and fertile lands. Its mineral wealth includes rice prodution. BOX 1. SIERRA LEOnE AT A GLAnCE Area: 72,000 km2 (7.2 million ha) Four main physiographic zones: • Coastline Plain (much of it swampy), 50 km wide and maximum elevation of 50 meters (m), 15 percent of the country • Interior Plains, occasionally broken by rocky outcrops (inselbergs), altitude 50-200 m, covering 43 percent of the country • Guinea Highlands (northeast), altitude ≥ 500 m with highest point at 1,948 m, covering 20 percent of the country • Plateau Region, immediately south of the Guinea Highlands Country can be generally categorized as: • Uplands (60,650 km2) • Lowlands (11,650 km2) Land suitable for cultivation estimated at 5.36 million ha or 53,600 km2, about 74 percent of the total land area: • Arable lands (uplands) estimated at 43,000 km2 • Arable lands (lowlands) about 10,600 km2 The lowlands can be categorized by four ecosystems: • Inland valley swamps (6,300 km2) • Mangrove swamps (2,000 km2) • Bolilands (1,200 km2) • Riverine grasslands (1,100 km2) Source: FAO-UNDP. Sierra Leone: Land resources survey, 1980, Technical Reports 1-12, cited in: Government of Sierra Leone. Agricultural Sector Review and Agricultural Development Strategy - Volume 3: Crops. Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security and Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, June 2004.The Oakland Institute understanding land investment deals in afriCa: sierra Leone | 6
  14. 14. Sierra Leone is home to 5,246,000 people with and hundreds of dialects. Following anti-colonial around 38 percent of the population living in urban struggles in the 1950s, Sierra Leone was granted areas. Dominant ethnic groups include the Temne independence in 1961. Reaction against corrupt ruling (35 percent), Mende (31 percent), Limba (8 percent) elites was a contributing factor in the country’s 11-year and Kono (5 percent) tribes. In addition, 2 percent of civil war. the population is Kriole (or “Krio”), an ethnic group comprised of descendants of freed slaves from the Americas who were settled in the capital of Freetown in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Life expectancy in Sierra Leone is approximately 55 years, and the infant mortality rate is 80 deaths per 1,000 births. Literacy rate among the total population is only 35.1 percent, with the average Sierra Leonean completing 7 years of school.24 The legal system in Sierra Leone is based on English law as well as customary laws to indigenous local tribes. Political parties include the All People’s Congress (APC), the party of the current president, Ernest Bai Koroma; the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP); People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC); the Peace and Liberation Party (PLP); and War relic several others.25 In general, Sierra Leone is an extremely poor nation From 1991 to early 2002, civil war plagued the country, with tremendous income inequality. Nearly half of and many citizens fled or sought refuge in the capital, the working-age population engages in small-scale Freetown. For much of the war, anarchy prevailed and agriculture. Manufacturing consists of the processing massive human rights abuses were committed.27 Much of raw materials and light manufacturing for the of the conflict spawned from an unequal distribution domestic market. Alluvial diamond mining remains of natural resources, money, and power, but it was also the major source of hard currency earnings, accounting fueled to a great extent by the illicit trade in “blood for nearly half of Sierra Leone’s exports. The 2010 GDP diamonds.” totaled USD 4.8 billion (ranked 161 in the world), with a GDP per capita of USD 900. Agriculture comprises 49 In recent years, the country has slowly begun to recover percent of the GDP, industry 31 percent, and services 21 from the conflict that decimated infrastructure, halted percent (2005 est.). The population below the poverty agricultural production, hurt education and, above all, line is 70.4 percent.26 crippled the confidence and welfare of the population. In 2004, the country ranked last – 177 of 177 nations Conflict and Recovery on the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Human Development Index. By 2010, it had risen Few countries have dealt with as much recent conflict, significantly to 158 of 169 countries on the Index.28 poverty, and suffering as Sierra Leone – much of which can be related to the country’s colonial legacy. Economic growth has also been positive. Sierra Leone, In 1787, the British founded Freetown as a base, and like Africa in general, weathered the global financial it later became Britain’s largest naval base in the downturn somewhat above the world average. The South Atlantic. Later in the 19th century, British forces effect of the financial crisis of 2008 was felt in 2009, conquered the inland tribes and organized a state when the real growth rate plunged from 5.5 percent comprised of different peoples, speaking 23 languages to 3.2 percent.29 However, growth in the agriculture,The Oakland Institute understanding land investment deals in afriCa: sierra Leone | 7
  15. 15. mining, and services sectors is expected to boost this agricultural programs and large-scale governmentrate to 4.8 percent in 2010–2011.30 The International investments in agriculture in an effort to encourageMonetary Fund (IMF) reported that Sierra Leone was a market-based economy driven by the private sector.not as hard hit economically as wealthier industrialized Some claim that this intervention was also partiallycountries because “it is less integrated, in terms of responsible for Sierra Leone’s transition to a net foodfinancial integration, which helped to insulate it.”31 importer, as low levels of private sector investment coupled with the collapse of state farms and state-Food and Agriculture in Sierra Leone supported agriculture crippled Sierra Leone’s food security.34 Indeed, only in recent years, with the globalMajor food crops in Sierra Leone include rice (upland market’s volatile fuel and food prices, have foreignvarieties as well as those suited to inland valley investors shown interest in Sierra Leone’s agriculturalswamps and bolilands), cassava (both tubers and sector.leaves), sweet potatoes (tubers and leaves), severalkinds of green leaves for “plassas” or sauces, cocoyams,beans and pigeon peas, palm oil, plantains, peanuts, State of Food Securitysesame, sorghum, and a wide variety of vegetables Sierra Leone remains a low-income and food-deficitand fruits, both from domesticated exotic species country.35 In 2010, Sierra Leone was categorized by(banana, mango, orange, avocado, papaya, guava, the FAO as one of five African countries with criticalgrapefruit, limes, pineapples) and local “wild” species problems of food insecurity. This is attributed to itsof undomesticated plants and trees. “slow recovery from war-related damage [in which] depreciation of currency led to higher inflation rates,Farms in Sierra Leone are typically very diverse and negatively impacting households’ purchasing powerworked manually by smallholders. Family farms tend and food security conditions.”36 Indeed, it is estimatedto include a wide range of annual crops produced that about half of the population was internally displacedin dispersed fields or swamps, small-scale animal by the war,37 and many of the internally displaced werehusbandry and various tree crops. Also, diets are often youth from farming areas in the east and north of thesupplemented by the collection of wild plants and by country who sought refuge in urban areas and theartisanal fishing and hunting. artisanal diamond mines. This displacement resulted in a severe labor shortage in many rural farmingFollowing independence from Britain, and throughout communities. Today, many youth remain unemployedthe next two decades, Sierra Leone was a net exporter or under-employed and lack the means to return toof food. Major agricultural exports included rice, spices their family farms.38(especially ginger), palm products (oil, kernels, kerneloil, cake of kernel), cocoa beans, green coffee, kolanuts, fiber crops, cassava (tapioca) and tobacco.32However, during the 1980s, even before the initiationof the war, a host of factors began to take their tollon agricultural production, which included cuts toresearch and agricultural extension programs, as wellas political stagnation and deteriorating transportinfrastructure. According to David Carew, SierraLeone’s Minister of Trade and Industry, the collapseof the nation’s infrastructure was a key factor in thecountry’s transition from a net exporter of food to a netimporter, as poor infrastructure slowed the transport offood from farm gates to the market.33Furthermore, beginning in 1989, World Bank and Diamond digging in KoiduIMF intervention led to the curtailment of state-ledThe Oakland Institute understanding land investment deals in afriCa: sierra Leone | 8
  16. 16. TABLE 1: SIERRA LEOnE: PERCEnTAGE OF FOOD AvAILABILITy In nEAREST MARkET (284-vILLAGE SURvEy) % OF vILLAGES Always or almost Occasionally Never always available available available Imported rice 83 15 2 Local rice 41 59 0 Cassava 65 33 2 Cultivated yams 31 64 5 Bananas/plantains 51 47 1 Vegetables/fruits 70 30 0 Beans 55 44 1 Fish 85 15 0 Meat 27 52 21 Palm oil 91 9 0 Groundnuts 72 27 0 Salt 99 1 0 Food aid items 43 31 24 Source: World Food Programme (WFP). November 2008. Sierra Leone: Household food security survey in rural areas. Vulnerability Analysis Mapping Branch: WFP Sierra Leone. Destruction of the country’s infrastructure during Pakistan and Thailand, chicken necks and backs from the civil war is another factor contributing to food the United States, and palm oil from Malaysia. These insecurity. In 2008, the World Food Program (WFP) relatively inexpensive food imports sustain urban indentified poor access to local markets as one of populations (at least when global food prices are low) many serious impediments to increasing smallholder but undercut the incomes of local farmers. farmer revenues. The WFP survey found that for 22 percent of the villages studied, an average trip of 15 The WFP survey also suggests that food access (due miles (about 24 km) is required in order to transport to financial constraints) is a greater problem than food goods to market, and 6 percent of the villages were availability.40 more than 30 miles (about 48 km) away from the In post-conflict Sierra Leone, then President Ahmed nearest market.39 Tejan Kabbah (who served as president during and after Oftentimes, local producers cannot compete in local the war, from 1996-97 and again from 1998-2007) of markets because of poor market access as well as cheap the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) prioritized food prices of imported goods. In many towns throughout security and the right to food. In 2004, the GoSL set Sierra Leone, for example, nearly all the eggs on the up a Right To Food Secretariat in the Office of the Vice market are imported from India, but still labeled “Farm President. This effort was part of the country’s Poverty Fresh.” Markets throughout the country are stacked Reduction Strategy, which was based on the principle high with onions from the Netherlands, rice from of the human right to food, a central plank in the SLPP government’s commitment to realize the right to foodThe Oakland Institute understanding land investment deals in afriCa: sierra Leone | 9
  17. 17. for all Sierra Leoneans by 2007. The government further Today, Sierra Leone remains a net importer of food,set up District Food Security Committees to monitor with an estimated 80,000 metric tons of the staple ricefood security results at a local level.41 entering the country in 2010.44 The country, however, is seeing an improvement in its own food production.However, the Right to Food Secretariat, as a functioning In the second half of 2009, food imports dropped tooffice in the Office of the Vice President, did not survive USD 15 million (down from USD 32 million for the firstpast 2007, when funding expired and the government half of 2009), driven largely by a substantial increase inchanged. The new government reportedly planned to domestic rice production due to an expansion in areasmaintain the office within the Ministry of Agriculture, of cultivation. Food security remains a top governmentbut other evidence indicates the office was to be priority under President Ernest Bai Koroma’s “Agendataken over by FAO, pending further donor support.42 for Change,” and debate continues as to howHowever, currently, the Secretariat is not a part of FAO agricultural development and food security can best beand is no longer in existence.43 achieved. Cassava and sesame beans on a family farmThe Oakland Institute understanding land investment deals in afriCa: sierra Leone | 10
  18. 18. ii. sierra leone: oPen For BUsiness Agricultural Development Strategy Bank’s Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP).49 However, critics allege that the SCP is Sierra Leone’s agricultural development strategy very top-down in its approach. It is claimed that this is characterized by the desire to attract foreign smallholder program will, in fact, do little to empower investment and a market-led approach for private smallholders to develop their own local storage and sector development of commercial agriculture. This processing facilities, which would increase capacity strategy is based on the assumption that the private of smallholders to reduce post-harvest losses and sector drives the organization of value chains that bring increase their own access to and understanding of the market to smallholders and commercial farms, markets.50 a concept known as Agriculture for Development, or “A4D,” according to the World Bank’s 2008 Report.45 Each of these programs emphasizes commercial agriculture and the commoditization of agricultural This strategy was formalized in Sierra Leone’s long- products, linking smallholders to markets and term National Sustainable Agriculture Development commercial value chains.51 An aim of NARP and the Plan (NSADP), signed in 2009.46 The overall objective SCP is to establish 150 Agricultural Business Centers of the NSADP is to “increase the agriculture sector’s (ABCs) throughout the country.52 These are to be contribution to the national economy by increasing developed with processing equipment, materials to productivity through commercialization and private reduce post-harvest losses, and eventually, according sector participation.” The program aims to facilitate to the coordinator, there is hope that the farmers can and strengthen the productive capacities of small and organize themselves and turn the ABCs into private medium scale farmers and promote the development companies. The World Bank is also providing funding of agribusiness and commercialization in the transition intended to improve feeder roads.53 to larger and more mechanized farms. Its focus is on agricultural products as commodities, and the Plan The relatively new emphasis on large-scale, commercial aims to facilitate access to markets and value addition agriculture has been attributed to the 2007 transition for a selected range of agricultural commodities: rice, of Sierra Leone’s government. While the former SLPP cassava, palm oil, cocoa, fisheries and non-timber government encouraged smallholder agriculture as forest products (firewood, charcoal, rattan, raffia).47 a legitimate sector of the country’s overall economic development strategy, the current government tends Furthermore, in response to the food and fuel crises to view smallholder systems as no longer viable. of 2008, the GoSL formulated a National Agricultural Curiously, a 2004 government review of agriculture Response Program (NARP), which, like the NSADP, in Sierra Leone, prepared with the assistance of the promotes commercialization. The government World Bank and FAO, among others, characterized then launched the first phase of its Smallholder subsistence-based agriculture as “a system which is Commercialization Program (SCP) on July 31, 2010, capable of satisfying the food needs of a balanced rural with a budget of more than USD 400 million for the population and, at the same time, to produce some next five years.48 The SCP is supported by Irish AID, surpluses.”54 Furthermore, the same report stated, “the FAO, WFP, European Union (EU), and also the World agricultural production system of Sierra Leone is basedThe Oakland Institute understanding land investment deals in africa: sierra leone | 11
  19. 19. on small-scale farmers. They should be supported and Critics say that this “new agriculture” – thebacked in their effort.”55 agribusiness framework – will benefit only the traders and retailers while transforming smallholders intoYet, no more than six years later, voices from these out-growers within the global division of labor, rathersame offices and institutions now claim that traditional than sustaining the ecological and cultural integrationfarming methods are outdated and impractical. of small-scale farming.60 Nevertheless, accordingPrevailing views, as expressed by Sierra Leone’s to reports and presidential speeches, the GoSL, withMinister of Agriculture, the FAO representative in funding from major donors, is strongly promotingSierra Leone, and other policy-makers in the country, the “Agriculture for Development” model to increasemaintain that traditional smallholder farming with overall production, with an emphasis on agribusiness“hoe and cutlass,” is no longer viable.56 According to and commercialization in the transition to larger andthe Minister of Agriculture, farmers in the country have more mechanized farms.61not been engaging in subsistence farming, but rather,“they’ve been sub-existing … even what they wereproducing was not enough to feed themselves, let alone Sierra Leone’s Campaign to Attractto feed the nation.”57 Indeed, the current government’s Investmentview is that modern, mechanized, industrial agriculture According to this agricultural development strategy,is the more appropriate path towards food security and the GoSL, under President Ernest Bai Koroma, haseconomic development. made attracting and protecting foreign investment in agriculture one of its main priorities. Sierra Leone’s drive to draw direct foreign investment is an aggressive one, with the president and his ministers making numerous trips to the Middle East, Asia and Europe“You need to commercialize by providing and offering invitations for potential investors tomachinery, labor-saving equipment. You visit the country. In 2010, President Koroma receivedknow hoes and cutlasses are not anything a delegation of 24 top investors from China who, following the president’s invitation, traveled to Sierrafor agriculture any more. You can use Leone to visit several agricultural sites, including largethem for small jobs, but go out in the rice fields, palm oil plantations, a large Chinese-runWest, in America, we are talking about sugar plantation at Magbass, and a rubber plantation.62machines.” The 2009 Sierra Leone Trade and Investment Forum,–Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay, Minister of Agriculture, held in London, was a landmark event in the country’sForestry and Food Security, Sierra Leone58 campaign to attract foreign investors. The stated goals of the Forum were to: 1. Inform the global investment community of Sierra“[In Sierra Leone], one of the biggest Leone’s stability and the richness of the investment op-problems that farmers have is that they portunities via presentations by leading members ofdon’t have any traction, they work with a government, including president Ernest Bai Koroma;hoe. I don’t know if you’ve ever worked 2. Validate the positive investment case for Sierra Le- one through the endorsements of renowned interna-with a hoe, you can’t do too much land tional figures and investors, including Tony Blair andpreparation with a hoe.” George Soros;–Kevin Gallagher, FAO Representative, Sierra Leone59 3. Expand in detail on the principal growth sectors in the economy, through a series of sector-specific pre- sentations and open discussion; andThe Oakland Institute understanding land investment deals in afriCa: sierra Leone | 12
  20. 20. 4. Guide investors on the many options available for fi- revenues for governments without promoting growth.72 nancing investments and ongoing business operations in Sierra Leone, as well as discussions on the acces- sibility of insurance and investment support offered by SLIEPA: A Major Player international agencies.63 Perhaps the most important tool in the government’s efforts to market the country as a profitable and The forum was funded by the UK Department for safe place for foreign direct investment is the Sierra International Development (DFID), the International Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group, (SLIEPA). Officially, SLIEPA is an agency under the and the EU. It was organized in part by the African Ministry of Trade and Industry; however, it operates Governance Initiative, a charity of the former British independently, and physically sits apart from the Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Spearheading the Forum complex that houses most government ministries.73 were Oluniyi Robbin-Coker, President Koroma’s special Created by an Act of Parliament in 2007 to replace the private sector advisor, and SLIEPA.64 Sierra Leone Export and Development Corporation, SLIEPA began operation in May 2008 as Sierra Leone’s The GoSL has also developed an incentives package “official agency to assist and inform investors and of tax breaks and customs duty exemptions to attract exporters.”74 SLIEPA is responsible for facilitating the large-scale agricultural investors.65 Incentives include business of the Investment Promotion Act of 200475 10-year corporate tax holidays on investments in “tree and for supplying information and facilitation services crops and rice”66 (which also include palm oil), as well sought by investors. The agency also provides a forum as timber.67 In addition, agricultural investors in 2011 for the private sector to discuss investment policy with will benefit from zero import duty.68 Finally, the country government. allows 100 percent foreign ownership in all sectors; there are no restrictions on foreign exchange, full This investment promotion agency was created repatriation of profits, dividends and royalties and no with the direct assistance of the IFC and its Foreign limits on expatriate employees.69 Investment Advisory Service (FIAS), the UK Department for International Development (DIFD), and the These fiscal incentives are being offered to investors International Trade Centre (ITC), in both financial and at the same time the GoSL has increased domestic capacity-building terms.76 IFC also provides foreign revenue through new domestic taxes, including the consultants (often referred to as “technical assistance” new 15 percent “Goods and Services Tax” (GST), or “advisory services”) to promote investment implemented in January 2010. This tax burden on opportunities in sugar and palm oil, the raw stock for citizens, coupled with the generous fiscal incentives agrofuels.77 offered to foreign investors, is a cause for concern. The Minister of Finance and Economic Development SLIEPA advertises Sierra Leone as a prime location admitted in a 2011 budget speech that “the existing for agricultural investments, touting the extremely low regimes and volume of requests for duty and other tax rural labor rates by comparing them to higher rates exemptions have tended to severely erode our tax base in other agricultural investment destinations, such as and undermine the effective progressivity, fairness, Brazil, Thailand, and Indonesia.78 The SLIEPA website and efficiency of the tax system.”70 Also, an IMF official states, has stated that the generous tax incentives on offer in Sierra Leone – which SLIEPA and the government “Sierra Leone is ideal for resources, a tropical advertise widely to attract foreign investors – should climate, rich soil, and lowland and highlands be minimized. He believes the country should work areas. A current base of production in staple foods instead to develop infrastructure that would appeal (rice, cassava, vegetables), cash crops (sugar, to foreign investors instead of granting them tax cocoa, coffee, ginger and cashew), and tree crops holidays.71 The IMF has shown that tax incentives, (oil palm, coconut), [Sierra Leone] has potential portrayed as a way to attract foreign investors in for significant expansion. A communal/chiefdom developing countries, merely reduce much-needed tax land tenure system and strong governmentThe Oakland Institute understanding land investment deals in afriCa: sierra Leone | 13
  21. 21. facilitation makes land easy to obtain in most a new area in the country to lease.85 It is unclear agricultural areas through secure, long-term how SLIEPA identifies sites for such foreign direct leases.”79 investment.SLIEPA further publicizes the following key points to SLIEPA offers little to no public information regardingattract potential investors:80, 81 its internal operations or the nature of land acquisitions in Sierra Leone. Details of location, size, or interests • Agricultural labor costs range from USD 2 to USD 3 involved in land deals are rarely published. The first per day, on par with other African countries, and con- edition of SLIEPA’s newsletter in August 2010 makes siderably less than alternate locations in Asia or Latin mention of several large investments, without offering America any details about the parties involved or leases being • Labor regulation is relatively flexible, with productivi- negotiated.86 A 2010 SLIEPA presentation provides an ty-based payments widely applied incomplete list of “top deals closed and top prospects closing” and offers no details on the location, duration, • Leases on good agricultural land range from USD 5 to USD 20 per ha per year (compared to USD 100+ in and nature of the actual and potential land deals.87 In Brazil, USD 450+ in Indonesia and USD 3,000+ per ha addition, despite numerous phone calls and in-person in Malaysia) visits to the SLIEPA office, the OI research team was unable to obtain a meeting with a SLIEPA official.88 • Currently, there is no charge for utilization of water resources Furthermore, despite its key role in promoting • Electricity rates are high, but it is expected that palm investment throughout the country, SLIEPA is relatively oil producers will generate their own power and sell to unknown among Sierra Leoneans. None of the OI the grid – so high rates are beneficial interviewees in local communities affected by land leases was aware of SLIEPA or its role in facilitating • Tax rates are very attractive, with 0 percent corporate land investments in their country. income tax and 0 percent duty on imported inputs for qualified investors World Bank Group InvolvementAdditionally, SLIEPA provides foreign investors with avery detailed document, “Leasing Agricultural Land in SLIEPA was established as a project of the InternationalSierra Leone,” which includes information about the Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of thepeople of Sierra Leone, their land, and how to access World Bank Group, which has been working at manyit.82 This document is not available to the general public levels in Sierra Leone and throughout Africa to promoteor on the SLIEPA website.83 Prepared by SLIEPA and foreign direct investment through technical assistanceits “partner ministries” in the GoSL, with support and advisory services.89 IFC’s pro-investor mission isfrom the IFC, the brochure helps investors “navigate clear, with the stated aims of working with multilateralthrough the land acquisition process in Sierra Leone” agencies to “deliver programs and advisory servicesand provides a draft template lease agreement. Under that improve the investment climate, mobilize private“Get started: Create a local presence,” SLIEPA advises sector investment, and enhance the competitiveness ofinvestors to “engage with an agent, facilitator, or joint private enterprises in Africa.”venture partner, familiar with national and local-level The IFC program to “Remove Administrative Barriersstakeholders, to support the land acquisition process. to Investment” (RABI) led to the establishment ofSLIEPA may help with the identification of such the Sierra Leone Business Forum (to act as the mainindividuals depending on the profile required.”84 vehicle for public-private dialogue on improving theThe document further offers investors the choice of business environment90) as well as SLIEPA,91 andtargeting a site for sugar or palm oil, pre-identified by the IFC continues to provide financing and advisorySLIEPA for a large project (10,000+ ha), or identifying services to both.92 In 2010, the IFC established for SLIEPA an Agribusiness Investment Task Force, whoseThe Oakland Institute understanding land investment deals in afriCa: sierra Leone | 14
  22. 22. stated objectives are to: support from the World Bank. ATI provides services to investors in need of various kinds of insurance • undertake preliminary land identification, commu- to protect their investments, including political risk nity sensitization, as well as detailed land ownership insurance “to protect themselves against specific mapping and land-use planning; and losses that could negatively impact their performance • begin some of the groundwork with the local com- such as government action, inaction, or interference munity, so that the process [of acquiring land] be- that would result in financial loss.” It offers protection comes easier and faster for the investor, and the to investors, suppliers or lenders against these and communities are better informed and prepared to other risks.97 receive and negotiate with an investor.93 The second is MIGA (Multilateral Investment The Agribusiness Investment Task Force serves to Guarantee Agency) of the World Bank Group, which introduce investors directly to communities and local protects investors from a host of potential losses, authorities to access land. These objectives suggest including political upheaval. According to DeRisk that investors working through SLIEPA will be able Advisory Services, an authorized marketing agent to bypass MAFFS policy guidelines for agricultural for MIGA, the Agency “acts as a potent restraint on investment that require investors to work through potentially damaging government actions… MIGA’s government ministries. leverage with host governments frequently enables the agency to resolve differences.” In addition, bilateral The IFC also provides funding and expertise to the investment protection agreements are also in place World Bank Group’s Investment Climate Facility (ICF).94 with several countries.98 The ICF is a “public-private partnership” backed by a number of powerful corporate sponsors, among them Indeed, the amount of foreign investment that has Anglo American, Coca Cola, Shell Foundation, SAB begun to pour into Sierra Leone is testament to the Miller, Unilever, and Standard Bank.95 In Sierra Leone, pro-investment climate of the country. From 2000 to the ICF is running a land registration project in the 2005, FDI in Sierra Leone averaged a mere USD 18 Western Area where land is freehold (absolute and million a year. However FDI in 2007 alone reached permanent tenure in which land can be bought and sold USD 81 million.99 Investors now look to Sierra Leone as freely), with the aim of digitizing all land holdings and a competitive market with profitable benefits. issuing deeds to landowners. This initiative shows the influence of IFC, the ICF, and its corporate partners in This has led prominent British businessman and pushing for increased privatization of land throughout personality, Lord Dennis Stevenson of Coddenham, the continent. current member the Advisory Board of ManoCap, a private equity fund that operates in Sierra Leone, Liberia Presumably due to the involvement of the World Bank and Ghana, to state that, “[Our investments] are not Group, Sierra Leone is now reportedly “among the 30 philanthropic investments, but a hard-headed pursuit most improved economies in the world over the past of opportunities. We are in Sierra Leone because we five years” and is highly ranked in “ease of starting a see great returns there.” ManoCap currently manages business” and in “protecting investors in West Africa.”96 two funds, the Sierra Leone Investment Fund that The Bank ranks Sierra Leone as number two in Africa invests in all sectors except mining, and the ManoCap and number 27 worldwide for investor protection. Soros Fund that invests in agribusiness and related sectors.100 Lord Stevenson is also the non-Executive Investors in the country are protected under accords Director of Western Union, of The Economist, Director with two World Bank-affiliated risk insurance agencies. and Chairman of the Halifax Bank of Scotland and One is the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI), Governor of the Bank of Scotland PLC.101 established in 2001 with financial and technicalThe Oakland Institute understanding land investment deals in afriCa: sierra Leone | 15
  23. 23. iii. Land Use and Land tenUre in sierra LeoneDespite the high level of institutional organization for • “It turns out that we [Sierra Leone] actually have aattracting foreign investment in land markets, Sierra lot of land, probably about two to three million ha thatLeone lacks institutional capacity when it comes to needs to be programmed somehow [and] I think foodthe governance of land use and land tenure issues. A security is easy to achieve because we have a lot ofweak regulatory framework and little oversight of land land.” – Kevin Gallagher, FAO representative in Sierra Le-deals leaves local landowners vulnerable to investor one.107coercion. There is even evidence of speculation in the Despite the assuredness of Sierra Leone officialsSierra Leone land market,102 which is one of the more regarding the availability of arable land, recent datadangerous threats to local food security. Yet, Sierra on land use and vegetation cover in Sierra Leone areLeone’s legal framework for land issues appears to scarce, if not nonexistent. OI’s comprehensive researchhave no safeguard mechanisms for protecting locals’ among all concerned ministries and institutions failedaccess to land. to identify any recent original data or land-use survey that could have produced such figures.108 It appearsLand Availability? that the figures generally cited originate from land surveys conducted in 1979 by UNDP/FAO when theA major pillar of Sierra Leone’s marketing strategy is the Sierra Leone population was about half of what it ismessage that the country has vast areas of “available,” today.“unused,” or “under-utilized” land. However, it isunclear what is meant by these terms and whether The oft-quoted figure of 15 percent (805,000 ha) ofSierra Leone’s “cultivatable” land is, in fact, used or the country’s total arable land as being cultivated isunused. cited in a 2010 FAO publication – a draft Bioenergy Background Review, intended to determine how muchSLIEPA’s promotional material claims, “Sierra Leone’s land is required for food security in Sierra Leone and toinvestment opportunities in agriculture are among the assist the Ministry of Energy in developing a bioenergybest in West Africa…. Only 15 percent of the country’s policy. The report suggests that the rest of the land5.4 million ha of cultivatable land were being farmed (85 percent of arable land) is available for agriculturalas recently as 2003.”103 Other quoted figures on land development and large-scale investors.109availability include: However, the FAO report uses data from an outdated • Sierra Leone has “more than 4 million ha of rich ar- able land not yet under cultivation.” – President Ernest forest inventory, completed in 1975. Since that time, Bai Koroma 104 deforestation has been rapid, and current estimates show that around five percent of original forests are still • The country has 5.4 million ha of cultivatable land, “of standing.110 Based on these obsolete figures as well as which nearly 90 percent is available.” – SLIEPA105 rudimentary calculations of population growth, basic • “I’m telling you authoritatively that 12 percent of the caloric requirements and areas needed to cultivate arable land is cultivated.” – Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay, Min- crops, the draft FAO bioenergy report concludes that ister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security106 Sierra Leone requires only 28 percent of its land areaThe Oakland Institute understanding land investment deals in afriCa: sierra Leone | 16
  24. 24. to ensure its own food security; that Sierra Leone has During the 10 to 15 years period, bush fallows perform the potential to produce enough ethanol to supply 10 important environmental services, such as soil percent of its own fuel needs on just 3,000 ha; and that nutrient replenishment, weed suppression, carbon the country has about 4.6 million ha of land available sequestration, and protection of watersheds and water for large-scale agricultural investors.111 resources. They also promote re-growth of many plant and tree species, conserving biodiversity.115 Bush fallows Incredibly, it seems that this short draft report, prepared also provide important resources such as firewood, by a student at FAO in Sierra Leone, is being used by construction materials, fodder for livestock, medicinal the GoSL for policy- and decision-making.112 Indeed, a plants, and wildlife for “bush meat.” 116 director at the Sierra Leone Environmental Protection Agency (SLEPA) refers to the draft report as something The aforementioned 2004 government review of that will help the country develop policies that will agriculture states that the bush fallow farming “ensure that the biofuel companies [leasing Sierra system predominates in Sierra Leone, and occupies Leonean land] leave a good deal for the country.”113 60 percent of the arable land “at the date of the last census” (completed in 1984-85), with smallholdings Furthermore, the terms “under cultivation” or “used” usually ranging from 0.5 to 2.0 ha of cultivated land by government officials or investors do not fully under food crops. The report also affirms that this encompass or understand the smallholder system of kind of farming accounts for about 60 to 70 percent agriculture in the country. of agricultural output and employs two-thirds of the farming population.”117 If, in fact, 60 percent of arable Smallholder agriculture in Sierra Leone is heavily land is occupied by the bush fallow farming system (or reliant on the “bush fallow system”, in which fields was in 1984-85 when the population was half of what it are cultivated for only a few years until soil fertility is is today), then a majority of cultivatable land in Sierra deleted, and then are left fallow for 10 to 15 years.114 Leone is indeed being “used” by smallholders.Rich fallows in the Quifel lease area The Oakland Institute understanding land investment deals in afriCa: sierra Leone | 17
  25. 25. Land Tenure Reform – For Whom? In March 2010, Sierra Leone’s Law Reform Commission began work on a policy document that would be theUnder colonial rule, the British established a dual basis for new land tenure legislation.125 The projectsystem of land tenure in Sierra Leone. In the Western to develop a new land tenure policy is headed by theArea, which includes the capital, Freetown, and the chairperson of the Commission and comprises of aentire peninsula where the capital is located, land team of five others who conduct the research and holdownership is freehold. This means that land can be consultations with stakeholders in the Provinces. Thepurchased and sold. chairperson says the aim is to “put all Sierra LeoneansIn the rest of Sierra Leone (the Provinces), land cannot on the same foot” when it comes to acquiring land inbe bought or sold. Leasehold in the Provinces is the country. However, interestingly, the Law Reformgoverned by The Provinces Land Act of 1961, which is Commission’s work on land tenure reform is fundedbased on the Protectorate Ordinance of 1927 and the by the World Bank,126 and the recent push for rapidTribal Authorities Ordinance of 1938.118 Under these land tenure reform appears to be driven by a desire tolaws, land is the “property” of indigenous land-owning facilitate large-scale agricultural investment. Accordingfamilies who are legally known as “natives” and who to the chairperson, “Basically, the government is tryinghold usufruct rights on it. The custodians of the land are to make it much easier for investors.”127 The ideaParamount Chiefs and the Chiefdom Councils, which is to reduce the number of actors involved in landhold land for and on behalf of the native community. negotiations and then to ensure security of those deals.Thus land is inherited from one generation to another Indeed, a 2009 policy document on agriculturaland is controlled by families, villages, townships, clans investment policies produced by the MAFFS suggestsor chiefdoms, and each family member is entitled to a that government priorities lie with investors. Thepiece of land for farming. As a result, non-natives who document offers a stop-gap measure by the GoSL towish to acquire land, whether Sierra Leonean citizens ensure that large-scale land deals are not impeded byor foreigners, often face numerous, unclear, and the existing land tenure laws or delayed while the landfrequently-changing requirements.119 tenure reform goes through. It states:According to the 1927 Protectorate Land Act, land leases “Government will serve as intermediary betweenin the Provinces cannot exceed 50 years for non-natives the land owners/host communities and the(including Krios), foreigners, foreign companies and foreign private investor. For that purpose, theeven missionary churches), with possible extensions of Government will lease the land of interest to theup to 21 years.120 foreign private investor from the landowners and,There has been widespread interest for many years in turn, sub-lease it to the investor.”128in land tenure reform in Sierra Leone for a number of There are concerns that the land tenure reform, byreasons. First, under customary law in the Provinces, favoring investors, will overlook the rights of localwomen are excluded from land ownership, with only peoples, particularly women. For example, civil societya few exceptions.121 Many argue that women should groups fear that foreign investment will displace womenreceive more secure access to land, as they are major farmers who currently have no title to land and thusfood producers and farmers.122 In addition, under are not eligible for compensation from land leases.129the current land tenure system, it is difficult for Krio Such concerns are shared by Olivier De Schutter, thecitizens to lease land outside of the Western area.123 UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, who,There is also a push for land tenure reform in order to in a 2010 report, acknowledged that security of landimprove investor access to land. According to a 2009 tenure is crucial, but he argued that creating a marketUNDP report on land tenure issues in Sierra Leone, for land is not necessarily the most appropriate way to“International Financial Institutions, such as the achieve it.130 The report recommends that if market-ledWorld Bank, have long considered this tenure system reforms are undertaken, that they be compatible withas posing restrictions on agricultural investment and human rights, that governments regulate to preventdevelopment.”124The Oakland Institute understanding land investment deals in afriCa: sierra Leone | 18

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