By Tabora Bojang
Central Baddibu lawmaker, Sulayman Saho has suggested that with all the early setbacks in this year’s farming season from fertiliser issue to early severe rains, it would be best for government to declare the season a failure before it is too late. Speaking from his farm in Njaba Kunda, Saho said though fertiliser is available, it is out of reach for the majority of farmers because of the high cost due to the black-market dealers. The NAM alleged that some dealers in his constituency are selling the government’s owned NPK fertiliser at D2200 or slightly more than the D2000 announced by the National Food Security Processing and Marketing Corporation, formerly Gambia Groundnut Corporation.
“I don’t know how these dealers are able to access this fertilizer but it is the same one available at the GGC cooperatives and they are individual business men,” the opposition UDP lawmaker alleged. He said he personally bought a bag of fertilizer for his water melon farm for D2200.
NAM Saho added that even though many farmers would prefer buying from GGC selling points, many of them are worried that they may be forced to pay even more towards transport costs of fertilizer due to long distances.
According to the Baddibu lawmaker, the high cost of fertiliser means farmers will use less and also produce less, warning that such realities make the future of the harvest season ‘bleak’ as low yields would propel food crisis for the farming community and the country at large.
“Farmers are faced with insurmountable constraints. They could not access fertiliser on time and they don’t have the financial powers to afford its high prices. Besides, many of them were caught by surprise by the rains which started in June instead of July and many were not able to plough enough spaces since their farm lands were overtaken by grasses. But fertilizer crises have been their biggest problem. As I speak, the women rice cultivators and water melon growers are also in dire need of fertiliser and they have nowhere to run to for help because the Senegalese fertiliser is now costing D4000 per bag which is a huge challenge. The expectations for this year’s harvest season are very bleak; there would be poor yields and less food. This is why I want the government to declare the farming season as a failure and this will help them partner with international bodies like FAO to ensure farmers get grants to do other activities different from cultivation such as poultry farming and animal husbandry,” he said.