FARMERS EXPRESS FEAR OF CROP FAILURE Expert opinion needed

Abdoulie G.Dibba

Farmers in the North Bank Region and Central River Region of the GambiaA farmer sowing his coos expressed fear that a looming crop failure is in the offing this year due to the late start of the rainy season and the uncertain nature of the rains.

The farmers made these assertions during a recent tour of these areas by the columnist of Farmers’ Eye from the 12th to the 17th of July 2014.

According to the farmers who spoke to this columnist, they sow their crops since June but due to the lack of rainfall following the first rain in June, the crops started to dry up. The following villages were covered: – Kerewan Dumbokono, Kerr Jebel, Jahanka, Kaur, Wassu, Brikamaba in the Central River Region; and Kumbija, Minteh Kunda, Jumasarrba in the North Bank Region.

The farmers indicated that they are in the middle of July, but there is yet adequate rainfall to ensure adequate moisture to enable them re-sow their coos and groundnut seeds.

A good number of farmers in the villages visited by this columnist in the two Regions are yet to start farming due to the uncertain nature of this year’s rainy season.

The farmers lamented that the variety of groundnut require four months to mature and now one month of the rainy season has gone, they are taking the risk to re-sow their coos but are afraid to sow their groundnut seeds without an expert advice from the Agriculture of Ministry.

Editor’s Note: Groundnut has a significant impact on the economy of the country, contributing approximately 6 percent of GDP and providing an important source of protein and income to an estimated 57,000 farm households throughout the country, or over 80 percent of the agricultural households.
Groundnut production is highly sensitive to rainfall, seed availability, fertilizer use, pests, etc.

This columnist will visit the Ministry of Agriculture today to shed light on this year’s rainy season and seek advice from them as to what is best for farmers to grow and not to grow given the pattern of rainfall and the lack of announcement of a forecast for this rainy season.