Gardeners condemn removal of onion import ban

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Women gardeners across The Gambia have lamented the government’s decision to lift the ban on the importation of onion.

Speaking to The Point newspaper at their various stalls at the ongoing trade fair at the Independence Stadium in Bakau, the women said the government’s removal of the import ban on onion was bad news for them.

The women gardeners are at the trade fair exhibiting their products courtesy of the NEMA project.

Amie Secka from Niamina East in the Central River Region south has groundnut paste, onions, pepper, wonjo, baobab and coos powder at her stall.

She said she has a big garden where she produces tonnes of onions.  She said for gardeners like her, allowing importation of onions into the country would mean spoiling the market for them.

She said: “When people start to import onion here, our own onion will not be sold, our onion will be spoiled as there will be no market for it.  We don’t have the power to build our own storage facilities to store our onion while selling it bit by bit.”

Amie said the government should place an embargo on onion importation when locally-produced onions are in the market and remove the embargo when the onions are finished.

“With support from the government, what we produce from our various gardens across the country can supply the entire country,” the woman gardener said.

Fatou Darboe from Brikama said she is a market vendor and gets her onions from the local women gardeners to sell at the market.

She said she was saddened by the news of the government’s removal of the import ban on onion because “it is from the onion sales that a lot of women get their living and with the removal, the market for the local onion is going to be destroyed”.

She also suggested that the government should make it a policy for at least three months when the locally-produced onions are in the market, there should be no import of onion.

“That will be somehow helpful,” she said with a sigh of frustration.

Mariama Fofana from Badibu Salikenni in North Bank Region said for the government to tell people to go outside and bring what is already produced in the country is “very unfortunate”.

She said:  “I am appealing to the government to get us markets to sell our onions first before asking others to import onion into the country.”

Ramatoulie Manneh of Jarra Madina said at their garden back home, they produce tonnes of onions.

She said their onions are ready for the market and but whenever they go to the lumos (local weekly market) with their onions, they now come back home with it.

“We don’t have anywhere to store it so some of the onions already started to spoil,” she lamented, adding that what the government should do is to help find market for the locally-produced onions not importing onions in the country.

Ramatoulie said with the huge garden they have, they can supply the country with onion when supported by the government.

Fatou Ceesay from Batinjon said she is not sure whether the locally-produced onions could satisfy the entire country but what they want is for their onions to be sold first.

Awa Jallow from Kembujeh Madina, Nyima Kanteh Jara of Pakalinding, and Fatoumata Fadera from Badibou Sanjal Sara Kunda all re-echoed similar sentiments.

They all appealed to the government to look into their concern vis-a-viz onion importation.

Author: Halimatou Ceesay