By: Foday Manneh
Following the reduction in the price of fertilizer by the government from an initial fee of D2500 to D2000, most farming communities continue to cry over the price of fertilizer hiked from D700 last year (2021) to its current rate ahead of the 2022 farming season.
A few weeks ago, the government in a press dispatch from its Spokesperson announced the reduction in the price of fertilizer from D2500 to D2000.
“Following general anxiety and public outcry over this summer’s published fertilizer price, President Adama Barrow has further subsidized the official price of fertilizer by bringing it down to D2000,” a Government press release stated.
Reacting to this new development, Ismaila Mballow, a farmer in Changally village of Sandu district said the price is still exorbitant for poor farmers who are struggling to make ends meet.
He proposed a further reduction of the price to an affordable D1000 considering other farming inputs such as seeds and equipment they still need to buy.
Recently, most farmers in the Gambia resorted to subsistence farming to reduce household poverty and food insecurity by growing crops such as groundnut, coos, maize, rice, and millet but even these minimized activities are being complicated by the lack of fertilizer and seeds for farming alongside challenges caused by climate change.
Bubacarr Baldeh, another farmer from Koli Kunda village said if the price of fertilizer is not reduced to an affordable fee, most farmers will prefer buying a bag of rice for their family’s feeding which is cheaper than buying fertilizer at this current rate for farming.
“Fertilizer is crucial to our farming system, most especially for farmers involved in crop rotation who have insufficient farms to regain soil fertility after several years of use. We also buy fertilizer for a long-term plan, so we are not guaranteed that it can be productive to our farming system,” Bubacarr laments.
Haruna Jawo, a businessman engaged in fertilizer sales said he has no intention to continue the business amid increased rates of farm inputs.
“I can’t buy fertilizer and keep it in my house because I know farmers would not come forward to buy at this price. It will be a loss for me. I am afraid, I will not sell fertilizer this year,” Jawo said.
Buba Singhateh, an agricultural extension worker for Wuli ward in URR said: “Fertilizer is key in agriculture as it increases yield and ensures healthy produce by supplying the right balance of nutrients for the soil.”
He added that, without fertilizers, the soil quality would be depleted and lead to low productivity.