farmers at Jahally in Central River Region have harshly complained over
insufficient farming machines in their rice fields to mitigate their
labour-intensive operations on the fields and quicken their work.
In a recent interview with The Point at the rice fields, Saikou Jagne said the Jahally rice farmers lacked modern farming machines to help mitigate their manual work and enable them to cultivate vast lands to promote food security in the region and the country.
“The challenges we are encountering in the agricultural site are now monotonous because we lacked all the essential machines for rice cultivation, including tractors, power tillers, bulldozers, harvesters and other relevant machines,” Mr. Jagne said.
But he said their principal concern is to get an excavator that will help them to clean the water canals to ensure effective flow of water into the rice fields and four-wheel tractors to enable them plough their fields on time.
Abdou Faneh, also a rice farmer said the unavailability of machines in the rice fields is a great concern for farmers, noting that rice cultivation cannot be effective in the absence of machines because some of the agricultural activities cannot be done by man power.
He said lack of enough agricultural machines had contributed a lot in low rice production in the country, adding that the insufficiency of tractors for farmers delays crop transplanting and results to poor crop production. “The lack of harvesters is also causing much destruction in the fields especially during rainy seasons. When it rains while we don’t finish harvesting, the crops will submerge and that will make us lose much rice.”
Mr. Faneh suggested that investors should come and help them by providing them with agricultural machines based on payment per plot or hectare.
He said Senegalese tractor owners who are working with them are earning huge money and that is least important for the country because the income they are generating from their farms is going out of the country. “So Gambians investors should come and work with us.”
Jonfolo Fatty said the insufficient farming machines in the agricultural site has drastically hampered the development of rice production in the area, noting that many quit rice farming owing to the excessive challenges involved. “We pay D12, 000 per plot to the Senegalese tractor owners to plough our farms,” she said.
The farmers appealed to the government, nongovernmental organizations and philanthropists to come to their aid to improve the agricultural sector and ensure food security in the country.