By: Aja Musu Bah in Basse
Women gardeners of Chamoi village in Tumana District in the Upper River Region (URR), have elucidated the numerous challenges they are faced with at their gardens. As a young lady working to make ends meet, Mariama Sawaneh explained to this reporter, the various challenges they encounter in gardening, on a daily basis.
“Access to water is a major concern because a garden cannot flourish without water, which wilts the plants and makes them to collapse and die,” she said.
Ms Sawaneh further explained that she uses wells to fetch water and this cost her a fortune because she paid men to dig three wells for her in the garden.
“I have dug three wells in my garden and I paid D500 for each of these wells. And the process of maintaining these well is to dig them from time to time otherwise, they dry up. That is why I say I spend a fortune to get my garden flourishing,” she said.
The mother of three also said that she faces difficulty fencing the area of her garden and uses sticks and wood to build a makeshift fence in order to protect her vegetable crops destruction from stray animals such as cattle and small ruminants, because she cannot afford durable fence materials that are very expensive to purchase. She explained that during dry season, animal owners release their animals to fend for fodder on their own and their garden is always targeted by these stray animals because of the greenery, which attracts them.
Hence, she called on the indulgence of the government and the Ministry of Agriculture to provide them with strong and durable fence materials that will keep out animals and protect their garden from vandalism.
An old-aged gardener called Makumba Drammeh, whose garden is located near the swamp, said she toils to gather organic manure for use as fertilizer on her garden, because the price of fertilizer this year, has skyrocketed beyond the reach of low income earners like her.
“After working our fingers to the bone and harvests our crops, we face more huge troubles in selling our products because most of us gardeners harvest at the same time. This has become a problem for proper buying and selling to take place, and our leftover produce go to waste. We then end up selling our produce at giveaway prices which is seriously to our detriment, at the same time, we throw away the rotten ones because we do not have cold storage facilities to keep our produce,” Ms. Drammeh explained.
Makumba Drammeh’s vegetable garden
She also calls on the Government to build cold storage facilities for them so that the rate of food spoilage will be drastically reduced and their income earning capacity will be fully realized accordingly.
Similar remarks were echoed by all the gardeners who were found at the village garden struggling with watering and maintaining their healthy vegetable plants.