Saturday, June 25, 2022

Farmers Lament High Cost of Fertilizer, Unfertile Land

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             Ahead of the Rainy Season

Voice Of The Voiceless Column

                            With Biran Gaye

Welcome to the voice of the voiceless, a column deeply rooted in sharing the plight of the underprivileged, vulnerable groups, and ordinary citizens, and is premised to propel a more progressive, inclusive and balance society for all.

In this week’s edition, we will bring you touching revelations of peasant farmers interviewed by this reporter during the weekend, in the wake of GGC’s announcement of the price of a bag of fertilizer which is pegged at two thousand, five hundred Dalasi (D2,500).

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Falalo Touray, Board Chairman of the Gambia Groundnut Corporation (GGC), made the announcement on Thursday 14 May 2022, while speaking on the GGC’s dialogue with stakeholders on groundnut, cashew and cereal productions at the Jenoi Agriculture Centre in Lower River Region.

According to Falalo, getting fertilizer this year is more challenging adding that in the countries where fertilizer is produced are currently at war with each other.

“Due to sanctions imposed on Russia which bars countries from trading with them, we moved faster and procured fertilizer well before the start of the season,” GGC Managing Director Muhammed Njie was quoted by the media at the convergence.

In an interview with Foroyaa over the announcement of the price of fertilizer, Baboucarr Nget, a farmer at Kerr Layen in the Niamina Dankunku District of the Central River Region, said most farming communities struggled to afford the price of fertilizer in the past; that with this 100% increment on this most important farm input, it will be almost impossible for many farmers to get access to fertilizer this year.

Nget further asserted that farming is the only means of living for people in rural communities, noting that farmers now require huge resources to achieve high productivity. This he posited, is retiring many farmers who has other skills because many feel that farming is no more lucrative.    

“The high increase on fertilizer this year will not only have an impact on farmers but on Government as well. I think the successes and gains registered by the Government over the years through the Ministry of Agriculture could be hampered by this increment on fertilizer as we depend on it for crop production.

“And with this increment, farmers will find it very hard to produce enough for family consumption, not to talk about selling some for socio-economic development. Therefore I call on Government to look into the matter seriously, so that farmers can afford fertilizer at a reasonable price,” he disclosed.

Madou Susso who is another farmer at Kerr Layen, told this medium that the increment will unleash severe consequences on his subsistence farming, which solely relies on fertilizer to improve its productivity; that the incremen will add a serious burden on him as breadwinner who provides for a family of nine. Susso ssaid due to infertile farmlands, coupled with inadequate farm animals and equipment, his younger brother (Madou Susso) has to work as a hired farm worker for well-off farmers in rural Gambia during rainy season, in order to support the family.

“With this increment, it is going to be even harder for me to buy the number of bags of fertilizer that my farmland requires to produce a good yield as well as provide the basic needs of my family,” a seemingly worried Madou Susso underscored.

“In the past years, I used to borrow some money to buy fertilizer for my farm, but I stopped because I do not usually get profit out of it. Since then, I have been cultivating a small piece of farmland because I cannot afford enough fertilizer for all of my farms.”

Mam Bakary Gaye, another farmer and resident of Ngayen Sanjal in the North Bank Region, disclosed that the recently announced price per bag of fertilizer, is unsustainable on the side of small scale farmers like him because they incur other fundamental needs of their families. He added that he yearly cultivates approximately a three-hectare farmland, and each requires a minimum of eight or more bags of fertilizer. He reiterated that it will be waste of human and material resources to cultivate crops in most of his farmlands because they have already run out of soil nutrients.

“If the Government wants progress and food self-sufficiency, then they should put us (farmers) at the core of their decisions, in order to boost our living, and improve our agricultural based economy. I am very much worried about how we (farmers) can cope with this year’s price for a bag of fertilizer. I will not be able to afford fertilizer if the price remains, and this will drastically affect my annual crop yield. This is even compounded by the inadequate organic manure generated from our domestic animals, that usually complements a small portion on the farm,” he added.

Gaye lamented that with this exorbitant price, middlemen will surge it further because most of them usually buy from Government and give it out on loan to farmers at an increase price, compounding tthe financial burden on ordinary farmers because they have to incur all of it. This, coupled with other associated expenses during the rainy season, he said has almost marred every farming household.

” I call on the Government, GGC and concerned stakeholders to do all what they can in order to reduce the price, otherwise the consequences will be damning for both farmers and the Government,” Gaye implores.

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