By: Kebba Mamburay
The Minister of Agriculture, Mr Omar Jallow on Thursday 17th may 2018, in an interview in his office, told Foroyaa that the President is working on the reduction of the price of fertilizer.
He stressed that people are only exaggerating the difficulty of accessing fertilizer but that the distribution of fertilizer is currently in progress. According to him, people should understand that during the first republic, farmers get access to fertilizer because there was a cooperative movement whereby fertilizers are sent to the cooperative societies for them to determine the distribution of fertilizers but now the cooperatives are no longer in existence.
“The so-called societies that we have currently as cooperatives operate under no umbrella of cooperation. These are individuals without any formal recognition or a committee, but the ministry has now established agents throughout The Gambia to whom they are supplying fertilizers for distribution purposes,” he said.
The Minister added that when this government came into power, the price of fertilizer was D1200, now reduced to D700. He pointed out that the Ministry of Agriculture coupled with the Office of the President is working on the reduction of the price of fertilizer From D700 to a lesser price.
Mr Jallow narrated that, when he took over the Ministry he found in stores more than ten thousand tonnes of spoilt fertilizers that were not used because they arrived at the wrong time when they are no longer needed by farmers. He said this is one of the reasons why he said that with the new dispensation, fertilizer would be arriving before the rains drop.
He made it clear that they are still distributing the remaining fertilizers of the last rainy season but the fertilizers for this season has already arrived and shall soon be distributed among farmers.
The minister further said they have ordered for seedlings and there will be distribution of seeds before the rain wets the soil.
His message to farmers is that they are trying to rehabilitate all the farming centres and will try by all means to rehabilitate all the seed stores for higher productivity. He asserted that during the first republic, a farmer is provided with seeds with the understanding that a groundnut farmer must not lack seeds and for that reason they reserve them in stores for future use and to protect them from pests.
He advocated for the revival of the cooperative movement so as to lessen the dependency syndrome of seed supply, pointing out that when farmers are growing the same type of crops on their fields, the seed supply from the Government must not be a hindrance.
The Minister made it that clear government cannot give fertilizers and seeds for free as of now because the fertilizers were taken as a loan that must be repaid. He added that right now the ministry is negotiating with their bilateral and multilateral partners for the possibility of fertilizer supply for one or two years for free, then they can subsequently sell it at a very low price which could be affordable to all farmers.