It’s a very humid and hot Saturday morning when we set out from Kenema, heading south to a village called Bongor in southeast Sierra Leone.
This is prime cocoa- and coffee-growing land. Just about every family in every village can lay claim (in an informal way, because there is no such thing as formal land title here) to a small “tree-crop” plantation, or agroforest.
These agroforests are generally a few acres that farmers plant and manage. They are full of economically important trees that add a lot of value to the farms and complement income from cocoa and coffee.
A local agricultural extension officer and I are hoping to meet up with some members of a women’s farming group and learn what crops they grow and how well they’re doing from them. A man from a local group called the “Agroforestry Farmers Association” has informed the community we are coming, as is custom when strangers are planning a visit to any village. Our visit is supposed to be innocuous and low-key.
When the vehicle pulls into Bongor, it looks as if there is a giant party going on. It turns out it’s to welcome us.
The “Court Barray” — the village meetinghouse with a tin roof and spacious open-air interior — is jammed with women and children. They rush out to greet us, dancing and singing and corralling us into the Court Barray.
So much for innocuous and low-key. Continue reading Musing on the bounty in rural Sierra Leone