By Lamin Fatty
Farmers in the Upper River Region (URR) have expressed their worries regarding the dry spell being experienced in their region and across the country for nearly two weeks, since the first rains of this year.
The dry spell is delaying farmers’ work particularly those who have started sowing early maturing crops on their farms.
According to farmers who spoke to this reporter, most of them have commenced sowing early maturing crops like millet and maize which has already germinated.
Alhagie Ballang Mballow, a farmer in Sare Mamadi in Tumanna District, said most farmers in his area who have sown their early maturing crops especially millet, may suffer because their crops have germinated already.
He said the dry spell at the beginning of the farming season has been a surprise to many farmers because such a phenomenon does not often happen and can be seen as a bad sign for the season. He emphasized that they usually experience dry spells every year, but not at this time.
‘‘We do normally experience dry spells every rainy season but this happens only towards the last 15 days of the month of July. This period usually finds some farmers completing the sowing of their early maturing crops and commencing the weeding of their farms. But a dry spell at this particular time with a duration like this is, is not a good sign as far as I am concerned,’’ Mballow said.
Maddi Dampha, another farmer in Bakadagy village in Jimara District, said there are some farmers in the area whose maize crops have already germinated; that if the trend continues, sowing will be delayed.
Meanwhile, the dry spell is a blessing to some farmers who are yet to plough and sow their crops, as they engaged in clearing their farmlands.
Our reporter saw others including women in Sandu, Wulli West and East, Kantora and Tumanna Districts, clearing their farmlands in preparation for the rainy season.
These farmers informed Foroyaa that the land tenure system and wedding ceremonies delayed their plans to start clearing their farmlands early.
A woman in Baja Kunda in Wulli East who beg for anonymity said she was late to start clearing and preparing her farm, due wedding ceremonies; that when Ramadan ended, series of wedding ceremonies started to be held in her neighborhood and among relatives which she must attend.
She explained that the land tenure system is another challenge for them as women, saying most of them do not own farmlands and every year they must pursue land owners to borrow these lands from them.