SOCFIN Agricultural Company Sierra Leone Limited on Friday, 15th September 2023 fulfilled its land lease payment obligations by remitting NLe 866,827 thousand to the respective stakeholders.
The payment corresponds to the land lease agreement dated October 15th, 2012, between Socfin and the government of Sierra Leone. The lease period covered the duration from September 5th, 2022, to September 4th, 2023.
The leased land, located in Zone “C,” spans an expansive 13,907.17 acres. Using the agreed rate of USD 2.85 per acre, the total payment amounted to USD 39,635, which was equivalent to Le 866,827 million at the bank’s exchange rate. This momentous event unfolded in the presence of witnesses, government representatives, civil society organizations (CSOs), and journalists.
Addressing the assembled witnesses, representatives, and journalists, Philip Tonks, the General Manager of Socfin Sierra Leone, shed light on the company’s land lease payment distribution process. According to Tonks, the payment is allocated into zones, with fifty percent going to the land-owning families, twenty percent to the Pujehun District Council, and an additional twenty percent to the Malen Chiefdom Administration. The remaining ten percent is channeled to the central government.
Furthermore, Tonks emphasized that all representatives must sign receipts before the funds are handed over to the Chiefdom Administration for further disbursement. He also took the opportunity to introduce the new HSC Manager, who was witnessing the payments for the first time.
Joseph Belmoh, the Community Liaison Manager, expanded on the payment process, explaining that while payments are currently made to both landowners and users, future payments will be directed exclusively to landowners, as per the agreement with government land officials. These funds are meticulously documented and then passed on to the Malen Chiefdom authorities for distribution, with receipts serving as proof of payment.
Speaking on behalf of the Malen Chiefdom, Chiefdom Speaker Robert Moiguah expressed his gratitude to Socfin for their prompt and consistent payment of land lease dues. He noted that Socfin’s presence has transformed the narrative of the Malen Chiefdom, highlighting various corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. These include the construction and furnishing of primary and secondary schools, payments to teachers not on the government payroll, road construction, and repairs, provision of solar lighting for health facilities, water well installations, and numerous employment opportunities for local youth.
Chiefdom Speaker Moiguah also lauded the support of Sierra Leone’s President, Julius Maada Bio, in facilitating Socfin’s positive impact on the region.
Both Foday Yusif Kamara, the District Officer of Pujehun, and Alex Fissan, the Agricultural Officer, commended Socfin for their punctuality in fulfilling their obligations. They encouraged landowners to utilize the funds wisely and to continue collaborating with Socfin Sierra Leone in their ongoing efforts to benefit the community.