Inadequate water hinders horticultural production in Bakau
Thursday, April 05, 2012
The inadequate water supply as a result of the shallow wells drying up fast has been hindering horticultural production at the Bakau 10.5-hectar women’s garden at Mile Seven, the women farmers have lamented.
The garden, which provides employment to some 534 women in the coastal town, has only 56 wells that dry up fast due to its swampy nature. This horticultural site that keeps the women busy all year-round has for many years now been their major source of economic activity. They highly depend on it to make ends meet, supporting the daily upkeep of their respective families.
The Daily Observer recently visited the garden at Mile Seven and spoke to the busy women about how the venture has been fairing with them in terms of economic gains, as well as the challenges they face in horticultural production.
Mba Tida Camara is one of the horticulturists whoexpressed concern for the lack of adequate wells in the garden and other means of water provision to boost production. The gardener lamented that the existing wells at the garden quickly dry up; a situation she bemoaned has been seriously hampering the production.
“We need more wells in order to water our plants and crops. The situation here is sometimes very frustrating as the wells dry up very easily,” Camara, a member of the ‘Mothers Kafo’ stated.
Commenting on the transaction of the venture, she lamented that one of their problems is the fact that they sell their produce to middle traders at give away prices to avoid them being perished due to the non-availability of a cold store. The so-called middle traders, she said earn more profits than them as they resell the produce twice or more than what they bought from them.
Having been in the horticultural production for a decade now, Camara said most of her income goes to support her school-going children and other welfare needs of the family.
For Mba Binta Cassama, who spent two decades in this venture, decried the less income they generate at the garden compared to the past when horticultural inputs were affordable to them.
She lamented that the inputs are very expensive now, citing the fact that they currently buy a lot of artificial NPK fertilizer, which she said cost them more than D1000 per bag. She also noted that they also rely heavily on the locally available fertilizer– groundnut shells - from Sarro, which costs six Dalasis per bag.
Cassama’s view on the water problem was similar to the previous speaker, lamenting that the state of the wells is not helping at all. On the economic gains of the market, the gardener disclosed that most of her children have graduated in school thanks to the income she generates from the horticultural site.
The Daily Observer also caught up with the technical adviser posted to the area, Jalamang L. Jatta, who explained that the garden is a 10.5-hectare plot with 56 wells and 21,000 beds under production.
Confirming that the existing wells dry-up easily, the technical adviser lamented that the farmers earn less profit, whilst the middlemen who buy from them earn more. He then launched an appeal for the authorities to introduce scales instead in the marketing of farmers’ produce.
Thanking the government for their continuous support, Jatta stressed the need for the provision of cold stores to avoid the produce being perished.
Author: Bintou K.B Janneh & Ajie Sowe