By Sailu Bah
Ba Jerreh Demba, the ‘Alkalo’ of Siffoe Village in the Western Region, has joined the numerous voices being raised by farmers across the country now expressing alarm over the situation of the rainy season which is marked by insufficient rainfall.
Talking to this reporter at his residence in Siffoe on Wednesday, 29th July 2014, Mr. Demba said it is farmers’ view that the rainy season this year is not encouraging at all as the low amount of rainfall has so far dampened their optimism. He said if this trend of low rainfall persists in the month of August, then the farmers around the country should prepare for any potential disaster.
The Siffoe ‘Alkalo’ said he and some other farmers in his village have not yet planted their seeds and are waiting for the rains to start in full force. He expressed concern over the lateness of the rains and said it is already two months into the rainy season, but that the downpour so far is not sufficient enough for them to start planting.
“In previous years, July has been the month when farmers have already sown their seeds and observing the progress on the plants and that by August, we start weeding,” he said.
Mr. Demba said it is more than a week now since it last rains there, adding that the long intervals make it risky for them to start planting now.
“A lot of farmers have already sown their seeds in anticipation that we will be getting timely and sufficient rains, but there is no enough water on the ground yet and this could lead to the destruction of the seeds,” he said.
Mr. Demba noted that 95% of the Siffoe community depends on farming to feed their families, pay the children’s school fees and take care of other basic needs.
“It is going to be a big problem if the rains fail to come as there will be no harvest and many people would suffer as a result, including myself, as desperate families will be besieging me as the village Alkalo to help them with food, etc,” he said.
The Siffoe Alkalo said the government has provided them with seeds which they have already distributed to farmers.
As for fertilizer, he said they have been buying it themselves but that it is very expensive. He said government has even promised to provide them with fertilizer, but this has not yet materialized.
He also noted the lack of modern farming implements in his community which, he added, poses a big challenge in terms of the maximization of their agricultural output.
Mr. Demba also harped on the need for technical support from the Agriculture ministry in terms of advice on appropriate and efficient farming techniques.
He applauded the intervention of non-governmental organizations that are assisting farmers through sensitization fora and in encouraging them to diversify to other crops such as cashew nuts and fruits in order not to depend entirely on seasonal income.