By Sailu Bah
Women gardeners in Buram village in the Foni Bintang Karanai district of West Coast Region (WCR) have lamented the lack of access to water, markets and good roads for their produce and are appealing for assistance.
Speaking to this reporter at her garden recently, Yaya Fabureh explained the difficulties they face in accessing water for their gardens from only one well shared by all the gardeners. “We need a borehole or more wells to ease the difficulties of getting water from only one source which is not for all of us (gardeners),” she said.
She also explained the difficulties they face in having to trek the distance of 3 kilometres of a poor access route before reaching the main road to get a vehicle to take their garden produce to the market in Brikama which is 70 kilometres away from their village.
“We pay D40 or even more as fares just to take our garden produce to Brikama and are sometimes left with nothing at the end of the day after taking out from the sales our expenses on fares as well as the food and water that we consume,” she further revealed.
Madame Fadera also identified as problem the lack of storage facilities to keep their fresh produce and which, she added, often force them to sell the vegetables that are left at a very low price in order to avoid spoilage and to finish and get home early.
“I have been working in this garden for the whole of my adult life and depend on it for income to pay for the education of my children as I have 7 children all of whom are presently going to school. My husband is a farmer and cannot do everything for the family alone. He also needs support which I’m doing,” she said.
Binta Jarju, another gardener in the same village, confirmed the challenges highlighted by her fellow gardener such as the water, road and storage problems, adding that they also need fencing to ward off stray livestock such as goats, sheep, etc. coming to destroy their plants.
She also identified the problem of being unable to afford the cost of seeds and pesticides. “We really need assistance to develop our garden and increase our productivity and earning capacity,” she appealed.
She disclosed that they have started to organize themselves and have set up a committee to help them in the collective management of the garden.
Speaking to the village Alkalo, Alhagie Lamin Jammeh, on the issues raised by the women gardeners and what is being done to support them, he acknowledged the challenges but added that as a village they do not have the wherewithal to address them. “As farmers we earn very little from our farming activities which is not even adequate for the maintenance of the family. The only income the village earns is the money that comes from the community forest. But this too is not even sufficient for use in our social activities and the further development of the community forest,” he revealed.
He also confirmed the need for a good access route to the main road and called on the authorities to help in rehabilitating the 3 kilometres road connecting their village to the main road for ease of transportation.
By Sailu Bah