About eighteen (18) kilometers away from Banjul, Bakindik is arguably one of the oldest villages in the Lower Nuimi District, North Bank Region (NBR) of the country. The community is inhabited mainly by the Mandinka ethnic group who for generations have depended primarily on agriculture as a means of survival.
The Chronicle visited the agrarian village recently to listen to the needs and aspirations of residents as President Adama Barrow’s “Meet the People Tour” continues. Residents who spoke to this reporter said President Adama Barrow and his government need to work towards improving agricultural productivity by extending support to farmers in and around Bakindik and the rest of the country.
Sako Faye, an avid farmer, said the timely provision of seeds and fertilizers remains one of many farmer’s major concerns in and around his village, disclosing that the Government must make these supplies accessible and affordable to farmers.
“As farmers, the timely provision of seeds and fertilizers remains our biggest concern as well as the difficulties we encounter in accessing these supplies. If the Government can ensure that we (farmers) get seeds and fertilizers before the start of the rainy season, it will go a long way in improving the agricultural production of the country,” Faye told The Chronicle.
According to Faye, a lack of adequate seeds, untimely delivery of fertilizers coupled with a lack of agricultural equipment constitute the poor yields accrued by Gambian farmers at the end of farming seasons, arguing that The Gambian Government must be ready to adopt former President Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara’s style of investment in agriculture as well as revive cooperative societies across the country.
“I think if this Government is serious with agricultural development, they must be ready to follow Sir Dawda’s footsteps of improving agriculture. Jawara used to support farmers by providing them with subsidized seeds, fertilizers, farming equipment as well as food and this is why agriculture developed during his era”, Faye told The Chronicle.
Bakary Keita, another farmer in Bakindik who spoke to The Chronicle said The Gambia Government must also consider providing horticultural gardens to the women of Bakindik, noting that if the women of Bakindik are provided with horticultural gardens, they will have access to resources to take care of their needs without putting such burdens on their husbands.
“I want to appeal to President Adama Barrow and his government to consider providing gardening and horticultural facilities for the women of Bankindik and the environment. I strongly believe that if our women are provided with gardens to work on during dry seasons, it will help them generate income”, Keita observed.
Ebrima Manneh is a prominent farmer in the area. Manneh shared that the Government must make a stock inventory to assess the overall performance of crops within the country, observing that farmers whose crops failed miserably during the past rainy season should be supported by the government in a bid to scale down their difficulties during the dry season.
“Personally, I think the fact that rain waters have been sporadic leading to crop failures in certain parts of the country, the Government should try and help those who fall victim to these sporadic rainwaters. There are a lot of farmers whose crops failed due to lack of rainwaters and for the Government to intervene and help them at this hour will be welcoming,” Manneh told The Chronicle.
According to him, Gambian youths must also venture into farming activities in complementing the efforts of the Government in boosting the country’s agricultural sector and production, adding that agriculture is the surest way of alleviating poverty in the country as well as improving the health and well-being of the citizens by “eating what they grow”.
Manneh frowned on the imported consumables dumped into the country daily, observing that Gambians have no idea where all these imported foods are coming from. He said a lot of diseases have surfaced in the health sector that were never prevalent in the country, disclosing that these diseases can best be attributed to the foods Gambians consume.