By: Foday Manneh
The skyrocketing price of fertilizer has triggered essential concerns from the farming communities who say the current price of fertilizer is unbearable and highly costly for farmers.
Most farmers in the URR, especially those focusing on subsistence farming of food crops such as millet, maize, rice, and groundnuts have called on the government to quickly intervene and help reduce the price of fertilizers ahead of the active farming season.
The Gambia, a few days ago (May 27, 2022) recorded its first drops of this year’s rain. Earlier, the Department of Water Resources predicted that rainfall could commence in June.
As several farmer communities prepare for another active farming season, Bubacarr Baldeh, a farmer in Koli Kunda in the Kantora outlines some of the challenges citing last year’s farming season as an example.
He explained that they have challenges ranging from the issue of fertilizer, storage facilities, and equipment, saying these are critical in their farming circle.
According to him, last year (2021) they bought a bag of fertilizer for D700, which was very expensive for many farmers. He added that recently he heard that the price has skyrocketed to D2,500, saying that the increase is an unbearable and colossal sum that would only prove harder for many farmers to afford.
“We used to have a lot of post-harvest losses because there are no storage facilities in our communities to keep our harvests. We have challenges with farming equipment. Many uses animals for farming which is now difficult to do considering the health and feeding of the animals too. We need help,’’ Bubacarr said.
Agriculture plays an important role in the country’s economy. Its contributions to the socio-economic aspects in the past decade have not been consistent, leading to a decline in production which has been worsening by the effects of climate change.
Ismaila Mballow also a farmer explained that this year’s rain came earlier than expected, unlike the previous ones.
“It is a good sign for us, but we need some help from the government when comes to the issue of seeds and fertilizers. The seeds of last year are not good enough for cultivation. Plus the new price of fertilizer is a big concern for poor farmers like me,’ Ismaila appealed as the new farming season looms.
Musa Jawo, who works as a farm manager of a 55-hectare community rice field in Sotuma Samba in Jimara, URR stated that: ‘’We work in the rice field in both wet and dry seasons, but it is more effective in the rainy season because we have difficulties with our channels and the soil level of the farm affects most of our crops. As a result, it leads to huge losses.’’
“We used to harvest rice for both subsistence and commercial purposes. We have 200 bags of rice currently available for sale but people are not coming forward to buy, maybe many are not aware. We need the government’s support in this area, ’ he said.