By Mustapha Jarju
The Alkalos of Jakin and Upart villages located at the Foni-Cassmance border are expecting a good harvest this year despite the challenges they face due to the armed conflict in Casamance.
Speaking to The Alkamba Times (TAT), Ousman Tamba, the Alkalo of Jakin village in Foni Bintang district on the border with Casamance, said this year’s farming season is better than last year. However, they still need help accessing their farmland.
“Most of our farmland is in Casamance, where we also collect logs, firewood, and charcoal from the villages of Majeja and Benghazi.”
He added that he owns a lemon garden on the border where the Senegalese soldiers have a camp.
“Sale of the lemon every year brought more than D40,000, but since the Senegalese military is occupying my garden, I don’t have access to the garden,” said Tamba,
Sadibou Sonko, the Alkalo of Upart, also in the Foni Bintang district, told TAT that this year’s farming season is good. But added that their primary problem is the need for more farming implements.
Sonko has a cashew farm located on the Casamance side of the border but cannot harvest it because of the conflict.
“In August, while we were farming, there was heavy gunfire around the border, and we fled into other villagers along the Transgambia highway.”
As for farmers affected by the Casamance conflict, he said the only support they get is from GAFNA and UNHCR because of the refugees hosted in their villages.
“We are still having plenty of refugees in the Gambian border villages, who cannot return because there is still fight in Casamance.”
He appealed to the government to provide food aid since the food assistance from GAFNA with a cash amount of D5000 has been stopped.
“We are now eating beans that we cultivated with support from GAFNA while we harvest our groundnuts, which are yet to be sold.”