By: Kebba AF Touray
The Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Omar Jallow, Friday May 25th, received 1000 tons of NPK fertilizer (6.20.10) from Senegalese Fermagro Company, in preparation for groundnut production in the upcoming season. The fertilizer which was received at the Gambia Groundnut Cooperation (GGC) Depot in Barra, North Bank Region, is funded by the Islamic Trade Finance Cooperation of IDB.
Mr. Jallow reiterated that Government wants to make sure of the early arrival and accessibility of fertilizers to the farmers, prior to the onset of the rainy season; that another two consignments of the same product, is expected to arrive in the next two weeks, with a view to helping farmers maximize their production. Mr. Jallow opined that the distribution of the consignment of fertilizer, will start today, May 28th, to make sure farmers have access to this important farm input immediately; that previously, Gambia used to buy 200 tons of groundnut yearly, which made the country’s economy strong at the time.
“Last year, we purchased 4,324 tons of groundnut in December alone. This means farmers are happy, now that they are having access to the fertilizer, seeds, implements and other assistance needed to increase their productivity. This year, the fertilizer has come early and we are expecting a bigger bumper harvest than last year,” said Mr. Jallow.
He averred that accessibility to fertilizer this year, will not be by loan, because they are trying to revive the cooperative movement after it was abolished by the former regime; that through movement, Government and other institutions can channel their assistance to farmers. Mr. Jallow described the movement as the main channel of communication and distributions of cash, loans, equipment, seeds and fertilizer, to farmers.
“During those years, we used to realize 97% loan payment from farmers, because the cooperative movements were managed and run by the farmers themselves. That is why we are going to re-establish the cooperative movement owing to the fact that it is easier to deal with an organized farmer’s association than individuals,” he said.
He disclosed that talks are underway with their bilateral and multilateral partners to look for means of securing fertilizer as grant, whereby GGC will sell it at a cheaper price, build the funds that will be used to import fertilizer, to be sold to farmers at a cheaper price.