Higher farm labor cost affects women farmers

Food Agricultural Organization photo: FAO

Food Agricultural Organization photo: FAO

Sierra Leone, 15 June 2015 – The increase in the cost for labour in farming communities in Sierra Leone has greatly disturbed the activities of farmers, to the extent of preventing most women from engaging in their usual farming activities. This and other concerns were raised by farmers during a tour in rural communities that have achieved zero Ebola disease cases for at least over forty two days in the South, East and Northern provinces of Sierra Leone.

Taiwa Tamba, is a twenty year-old widow who lives in Kpondu Village, Kailahun District, where the first Ebola disease case was reported. Her husband died of the Ebola virus in July 2014. Taiwa explained that she was pregnant when her husband died, and by then, they had just started brushing the farm in preparation for the planting season. She recounted that every year, they used to plant two acres of upland rice and that she solely depended on her husband’s labor.

This year, Taiwa feels helpless as she cannot afford to pay SL 10,000 every day for brushing the farm. She also takes care of her twins, Mattu and Agnes, who are now 11 month-old. In Koindu Town, Finda Musa, is a mother of six children who also lost her husband from the Ebola disease. She does not have any hope of farming as she cannot afford the daily wages demanded by abled bodied youth. “This year I cannot farm because my husband who used to do the brushing is no longer alive and my children are not strong enough to take over after him”, she complained.

She explained that farming is the only source of livelihood for the family, and it was through the proceeds from the sold yields that she and her husband offset bills including school charges. “I am grateful that Government has declared free education this year, but there are still other charges like lesson fees and lunch that I have not been able to provide for the four children who go to school” she stated.

Other women, heads of households in the rural communities are faced with similar situations and are in dare need of starter kits including cash transfers, seeds and food for work activities to engage in agricultural activities for the upcoming/current planting season.