By Sailu Bah
Some of the gardeners in an interview with this paper on Saturday 7 February 2015, decried the inadequate water supply and lack of good fences and access roads to market their products. They say they rely on gardening to feed their families and meet other basic needs.
They added that the vast majority of the inhabitants of Siffoe depend on farming particularly gardening to feed their families. Siffoe is about 10 kilometres away from Brikama and is in Kombo South District West Coast Region. It is a village with about 7000 in habitants.
Fatou Jallow, a gardener said they are facing lots of difficulties. She explained how cattle destroy their vegetables before they are harvested due to lack of good fences. She said they cannot afford to have proper fences on their gardens, adding that they use palm leaves to fence their gardens which she said is not strong enough. She cited another problem, inadequate water facilities to water their crops. She said they do dig wells for watering their gardens only for it to collapse later because the soil is muddy.
Another Gardener Rohey Ceesay, on her part, laments the long distance she has to walk to get to her garden. She also decried the state of the roads leading to their gardens which she described as bad. She said after harvesting their vegetables they have to carry them on their heads and trek a long distance to their homes and later take them to the market at Brikama. She said they work hard but earn very little.
She appealed passionately for help from the government, NGOs or philanthropists.
The Alkalo of Siffoe, Alhagie Jerreh Demba confirmed the plight of the gardeners. He said the women are really trying hard in farming and gardening to feed their families but are facing major constraints. He said that as an Alkalo he is very much concerned about their plight, adding that he also depends on agriculture to feed himself as well as his family.
He said the government has provided a garden for the village, but that the garden can be used by only a few people which he said is a major constraint. He said the village has a borehole but the borehole is not for gardening, but to get access to clean and healthy water for drinking purposes.
He said Siffoe now has about 7000 inhabitants and the majority depends on gardening as a source of living.
He talked about his concern for the village and how he often brainstorms with them on the way forward. He deplored the poor harvest this year due to poor rainfall. He even cited the poor harvest they faced this year due to poor rainfall, causing a big hardship for the villagers.
He urged people to be helping each other in their farming activities or in their productive activities so as to live in a very conducive environment. He also urged the people to embrace the “back to the land call” initiated by the president of The Gambia.
He used the opportunity to appeal to NGOs and other Parastatals for help.
He emphasised that it is important to solve the water problem, garden fences and other problems to bring about development in the village.