The recurrent problem of hippos’ destruction of rice fields in the Central River Region continues unabated. Women in Niamina, in particular, who rely on a rain-fed to cultivate rice for subsistence are often forced to surrender their rice fields to the powerful hippopotamuses that emerged from the nearby river. The rampages of the hippos would relatively leave these brave ladies with nothing to harvest from their farms to feed themselves and take care of their social needs.
“Today, the hippos even attacked our rice fields” Jarrai Camara, a rice grower and native of Niamina Papa tells the Chronicle. “We’ve been witnessing such and even last year’s raining season too, it happened. Whatever we grow here hippos always find their way to our fields and eat the rice we grow”.
Unlike some communities in other parts of the country who normally cultivate crops like peanuts, large-size millets and horticulture, women in Niamina mainly focus on subsistence rice farming.
“Here, we the women only grow rice for subsistence purposes. We don’t have enough gardens. We’re seeking support from the government or anyone who can assist us to have our rice fields with night hunters or enclose them with barricades so that hippos would not have access to our fields”.
While hippopotamus continues to be a serious problem for women in this area, it’s not the one challenge affecting them. Others who decided to venture into gardening are confronted with water shortage. This includes Aji Fatou Gassama who laments to The Chronicle how her gardening has been undermined by water problems.
“Water is our challenge too,” she said. We normally filled our small tanks and used our donkey carts to carry it into our gardens. It’s a real hardship. If we’ve many boreholes in our gardens, it will help us”.
The Alakalo of the Niamina Papa, Sheriff Jallow appealed for support on behalf of the community particularly the women in terms of finding a solution to hippopotamus’ encroachments in the fields.
“Last year, we had rice support from some agencies after hippos had destroyed all the rice we grew.” He calls for government and agency’s intervention.”