Agricultural Investment or Land Grab in Sierra Leone?
In 2011, Socfin Agricultural Company Sierra Leone Ltd. (Socfin SL) sealed a $100 million deal securing 6,500 hectares of farmland for rubber and oil palm plantations in Malen chiefdom in Pujehun district in the south of Sierra Leone. The Socfin investment, however, does not have support of the local population. In October 2011, 40 villagers were arrested following a peaceful protest.
The struggle of smallholder farmers and land owners in Sierra Leone is a classic David versus Goliath battle. The grievances made by Sierra Leonean farmers over Socfin's oil plantations are virtually identical to those made by farming communities from around the world regarding investments made by other Socfin's subsidiaries.