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Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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Access to income, protein in rural Gambia grows

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Sare Birom, a remote community in Niumi North Bank Region practices rainfed crop farming. Like other hard-to-reach rural communities, Sare Birom is also bereft of basic but essential services making it difficult for the inhabitants to have improved living conditions during the dry season. However, in search of means of livelihoods to sustain themselves during this period, the village women mobilised themselves and started a garden with the hope of generating incomes for a better life.

They teamed up to dig wells measuring up to 18 meters deep for irrigation, only to be dismayed at poor yields due to the erratic nature of the ground water levels.  It was not until the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) through the Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change Project (AACCP) funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) intervened with a poultry farm as a climate change adaptation measure to diversify their means of livelihood, that the community experienced a watershed moment.

“This farm is transforming our lives daily; our members are fully and productively engaged, and our living conditions have improved,” Fatoumatta Sowe, the leader of the women’s group explained.

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The women’s group dubbed; “Wellingara Association” were given day-old chicks as seed capital to run a poultry farm some months ago with the expectation that they will sell the birds when they mature and plough back the proceeds to sustain the much-needed intervention. In search of clues on how FAO’s AACCP is changing lives in rural Gambia, FAO visited the community and noticed good progress.

The team found women beaming with smiles perhaps to the inspiring success they registered at the farm. Already, they have raised D100,000 from the first batch of birds they received as seed capital some months ago and have already restocked the poultry with 600 birds, from the proceeds of the initial sale.

“This is our first breakthrough, some of the birds bought are already mature for the market, and customers such as lodge owners and restaurateurs within the region, as well as people from nearby communities, have started to make bookings and we also have a customer who came from Serekunda to buy 250 birds,” she said.

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This confirms the growing sales and returns to profitability at the farm, likewise the improved economic situation of these women could not have raised such income in their gardens in a short period, due to irregular water supply.

“In the past, we used to travel long distances to buy chicken legs, especially during Ramadan, sometimes our meat will defrost and get spoiled before we reach home because the money, we spend on it is huge. We sometimes cook and consume some and end up experiencing gastrointestinal infectious diseases. Today, thanks to the AACCP project, we can buy as many portions of meat as we can afford,” said Jainaba Bah, one of the farmers.

Pateh Jawo, a livestock officer in Kerewan said the economic gains of poultry farming in NBR is gaining momentum.

“Poultry farms sell birds for D300 each, if you multiply that by 500 you will notice the huge profit a farmer can make from poultry farming, thanks to projects like AACCP, many livelihoods have changed,” he said.

If what Pateh and the women poultry farmers said is anything to go by, a brighter prognosis and a better life and a healthy rural population is guaranteed.

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