Inside Kaur: Banana Plantation for Migrant Returnees Left Fallow More Than a Year After Completion

The site of the Banana Plantation Garden in Kaur

By: Kebba Ansu Manneh

Residents in Kaur have expressed concerns over the continued closure of a Banana Plantation Garden created for the teeming number of “Back-way” returnees in the Kaur Ward, Lower Saloum District in the Central River Region (CRR) of the country.

According to sources, the Kaur Banana Plantation Project was created with support from the UN Peacebuilding Fund, Ministry of Trade, Integration, and Employment (MOTIE), Office of the Vice President (OVP), National Youth Council (NYC), Department of Community Development (DCD) and Returnee Associations in partnership with IOM and ITC.

They disclosed to TAT that the banana plantation is meant to provide economic opportunities to returnees living in the Kaur ward for a sustainable livelihood, noting that the project is part of other community-based reintegration projects that include a bakery in Basse and Brikama, a poultry house in Pakalinding, and tricycle initiative in Banjul.

It was revealed that the plantation garden has been completed since the beginning of 2023. No activity has yet to be ongoing at the site that has been left fallow. Beneficiaries call on the relevant authorities and organizations involved in the project to come forth and tell them what is keeping the plantation garden from operating.

“The plantation garden is meant to support my ward’s ‘Back-way’ returnees. But I don’t know what is stopping the garden from being operational. I believe the community development officer in the ward is the right person to tell you the real issues preventing the operation of this plantation,” Musa Bah, Councilor Kaur Ward, told TAT.

He added: “Definitely, the continuous closure of this garden does not benefit the community; hence, it’s our concern to see that it’s functional. However, at the ward level, we will do our best to find out what is holding the project and ensure that work starts at this place.”

An anonymous member of the committee that supervises the entire project on behalf of the ward disclosed that the project sponsors supplied the banana shockers to the community well before a borehole was dug at the garden, arguing that he vehemently rejected the idea of receiving the banana shockers from the project sponsors before the borehole was ready, as the shockers will be a nonstarter and recipe for failure of the project.

Banana Plantation Garden

He disclosed that his advice was rejected by the committee, which went ahead to receive the shockers. He also notes that another failure of the project was the exclusion of key returnees in the project implementation, thus leaving it in the hands of those who are not, in fact, returnees.

The anonymous member appealed to the project sponsors to come on board and put this in the proper perspective for the interests of the returnees and, by far, the beneficiary communities.

TAT spoke with one International Organization of Migration (IOM) official, who promised to provide information. Still, he has not gotten back to us until press time.

TAT will also contact other stakeholders to determine what keeps the plantation at a standstill.

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