By Sailu Bah
Muslims preparing for the forthcoming Tobaski feast have complained of high cost of ram at the commencement of the Tobaski ram sales at Abuko. It was earlier announced by the Director General of The Gambia Livestock and Marketing Agency (GLMA) that the official Tobaski ram sales would commence on Wednesday 24th September 2014, at the Abuko “Darral.”
Foroyaa as usual went to check how sales are going on regarding the sales.
Dealers from different parts of the country and outside, on Wednesday, 24th September 2014, converged at the main selling point at Abuko. .Mr. Amadou Camara, a customer at the “Daral” opines that rams are expensive this year. He said the prices of rams are discouraging buyers.
“Things are not easy this year because rams are very expensive. I am hoping that prices would go down before the Tobaski,” he commented.
Abdoulie Gaye, also a buyer from Banjul, said he is buying a ram for his family, but added that the prices are very expensive this year.
“I have been going round to see if I can get an affordable ram for Tobaski, but I cannot still see one that I can buy,” he said, “I am urging the dealers to lower the prices for people to be able to afford the prices of the rams,” he urged.
Speaking to Livestock dealers at the “Daral,” Lamin Touray 32 years of age and a Gambian, noted that business has not been faring well as it used to be. He said business is now going down and that they are facing lots of difficulties in the business sector due to the rise of the CFA Franc against the Gambian Dalasi which he said is responsible for the hike in the prices of rams.
He also described the cost of feeding animals as expensive. “A bag of hay is costing D400. This is even scarce, so we used to buy a bag of grass from young boys who go to the bush to fetch it and sell it to us for D50 for a bag,” he remarked.
Lamin also said they experience delays at the border post where health personnel screen them to make sure that they are free from the Ebola virus.
Abdoulie Secka, a 27 year old ram dealer from Wassu, said customers are complaining of the cost of rams which they said is expensive.
According to Secka, a ram that is expected to be affordable to an average person is costing D5, 500.
“The price of ram is said to be expensive because we incur a lot of expenses including the cost of transportation which is getting higher” he explained.
Muhammed Lamin Darboe, an officer of the National Livestock Association at the “Daral,” said he is responsible for giving permit to dealers and buyers in order to make sure that they can move freely with their animals.
He said this year, rams are expensive for an average Gambian and suggested that people who can’t afford to buy a ram can contribute with others (say seven other people) to buy a bull.
He said he has spoken to dealers about the high prices, but the dealers told him that the prices are high because of the depreciation of the Gambian Dalasi against the CFA and the high cost of transporting these animals.
“Gambians should try and focus on animal husbandry. This will help us to produce our own animals and will make the prices cheaper and affordable to average citizens,” he advised.
Dr. Demba Jallow, Director of the GLMA, speaking in his office, said they have contacted lots of farmers who are coming with their rams from Farafenni, Nuimi, Wassu and other parts of the country. He said they would hopefully arrive at Abuko latest Friday Sept. 26th.
He said people always complain of the price, pointing out that nobody subsidizes the prices of livestock. He said most of these farmers sometimes come lately to the “Darral” for the Tobaski ram sales because they want to avoid spending extra money on feeding. He added that most of the farmers would be trekking with their animals along the road so that their animals can be fed well and remain healthy.
“We have already prepared a ground for the farmers with free electricity and water with no extra cost to encourage them to bring in their livestock for the supply to be high, because when the supply is high the prices will go down,” he opined.
He also said that they have written to the Gambia Ports Authority director for easy access at the crossing points and the GPA said they would help in facilitating this request. But he was quick to say that GLMA should note that there is only one ferry plying the Banjul-Barra ferry point.
He said they have acquired a ground where the animals can graze for at least few days when they arrived.