By Momodou Jarju
Co-founder of Mira Farms Limited, Mandou Fofana, has revealed that two women groups, locally called Kafos, have lost their job with them due to the effects of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19).
Mr. Fofana said they have two permanent staffers and outsource most of the labour to women groups or Kafos at Wellingara in Central River Region (CRR) – a region where rice cultivation is the highest in the country.
“However due to the pandemic, we have no choice but to limit the Kafos we hire from three Kafos to one for now,” he said.
The young farmer said the jointly-owned rice company, Mira Farms, was established on June 2019 and dreams to be the biggest commercial rice farm in the country. They are also considering the prospect of venturing into horticulture.
Fofana said Covid-19 has affected their work, saying he could not travel to his farm like he used to since the COVID-19 outbreak.
“I have put a halt on almost everything. We even resort to put a halt on the number of daily contract workers because we might not be able to pay them all. However, I have to say labour at the farm is relatively cheaper because more people want to work because they are out of work or they couldn’t find anywhere to work,” he said.
Speaking further, Fofana also said they are facing an acute lack of capital and funding to continue with most of their operations, since the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Our water pumping machine broke in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak and we basically couldn’t get replacement since. As a result, we have to reduce our land area under cultivation and limit it to the area we have water through the river tide,” he said.
Asked whether the extension of the state of public emergency will not further hinder their work, Mr. Fofana unlike some Gambians responded in the positive.
“I won’t be selfish. If we look things from a business perspective the lockdown is not good at all. But for the overall safety of our people, I think the extension of emergency is necessary to be able to contain the spread of the virus,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Fofana, who is also an IT Officer at the National Association of Cooperative Credit Union of the Gambia (NACCUG), and his cousin Modou Lamin Suwareh, founded Mira Farms Limited and Fofana is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the farm.