By Mustapha Jallow
Farmers in Palen-Wolof of Sabach Sanjal District in the North Bank Region (NBR) are extremely worried about their fresh-grown crops dying after they claimed that a “secco” in Ngayen Sanjal refused to sell them fertiliser.
“Denying us fertiliser means killing us. We depend on farming for everything. So, it is our lives. Let the “secco” have mercy on us because we really need it. If not, our crops will die,” a 54-year-old farmer, Kebba Drammeh, expressed his concern.
Farmers have in the past lamented the lack of access to fertilisers and basic amenities, but they now feel neglected after officers at Ngayen Sanjal’s “secco” refused to sell them fertilisers.
Drammeh, who spoke on behalf of his affected community, told Foroyaa about the new challenge farmers in the community are experiencing. He explained that they had a committee that takes charge of farmers’ affairs and other needs of the community members, adding that the committee is also responsible for purchasing fertilisers for the farmers.
As the deputy leader of the committee, Drammeh said his village members including himself visited the “secco” to buy 250 (50kg) bags of fertilisers for their crops. But to their surprise, he said, they were told by an officer at the secco that such a large amount will not be sold to them.
However, Drammeh claimed that they used to buy more than 101 bags of fertilisers in the past, when the bag used to be sold at D700. And since it has jumped from D700 to D2000, he continued, they decided to buy a large amount for their people, who would find it harder to purchase a bag.
“Our intention is to buy 250 bags of fertilisers and give each household two bags until when they harvest, then return the money to our committee purse. Earnings are not the same; some can afford the bag, while others can’t. So, we want to make sure that each house has two bags,” he explained.
“We did all the farming and our crops needed fertilisers, but we were disappointed. We do not know what to do now and our crops are at risk of dying, if we don’t have fertiliser.”
The farmer, who was complaining bitterly, said his community had never been in such an experience, therefore, he called on the concerned authorities to quickly step in and help address the situation as soon as possible to ensure “seccos” allow farmers access or buy any amount of bag of fertilisers they want to purchase.
However, Muhammad Njie, the Managing Director of National Food Security Processing and Marketing Corporation (NFSPMC) formerly Gambia Groundnut Corporation (GGC), told Foroyaa that they do not want what had happened last year to repeat itself this year.
According to him, they are trying to control the fertilisers and allow “seccos” to sell directly to their farmers.
He said since the corporation is in charge of the communities, they would do assessments to establish whether these farmers need 200 bags or not. He also believed that the corporation knows the farmers in those communities and they will be able to determine the type of fertiliser farmers need.
However, Njie urged the affected community members to return to the “secco” and discuss with them because he is sure there will be a lasting solution to their concerns.
Fatim Leigh, the sales and marketing manager of NFSPMC, said they used to receive similar complaints in the past and that when farmers reached out to them, they were given all the necessary support to address their problems.
“So, we are trying to monitor the selling and as well make sure fertiliser remains in the country because it is being subsidised,” she added.
Leigh explained that the “secco” is selling the fertiliser on behalf of the corporation, saying the “secco” officer was trying to do due diligence on the farmers who came to purchase the fertiliser.
She said: “We all know that farmers need fertiliser now, but it would be difficult for the “secco” to deliver that actual 200 bags that they were requesting. So, the secco-guy told the farmers to wait till the next consignment in order to help them acquire the fertiliser.”
Meanwhile, Leigh claimed that the “secco” is not denying farmers’ access to fertiliser.