Coordinating Organisation for Farmers Association The Gambia –NACOFAG and Food
and Agriculture Sector Development Project (FASDEP) have established a seed and
cereal banking scheme for family farmers and farmer organisations, geared
improve food, nutrition promotion seeds and income security.
According to NACOFAG national coordinator, Alieu Sowe, 10 schemes are already established in 10 communities the West Coast, Lower River and Central River Regions north and south. “Also, four regional stock piling centers were established to help improve food and nutrition and to support disaster victims.
He said the regional stock piling will be serviced by a committee established among farmers and technical advisory committees in collaboration with NACOFAG and FASDEP regional focal points.
Mr. Sowe said the main objective of the scheme wasss to improve family farmers in terms of borrowing grains to avoid farmers from selling their grains immediately after harvest and to create village-level emergency food stocks. “It will facilitate direct exchange among farmers involved in cereal banking and explore alternative approaches to improve food security at the community level through marketing and credit.”
He said family farmers regularly sell most of their produce just after the harvest time (October and November) to meet financial obligations (tax, debts, ceremonies and children school fees) with the knowledge that they would be repurchasing the same grains above the price they sold them, before or during the hungry season.
According to him, farmers are often compelled by immediate and pressing domestic financial needs to sell most of their meager harvest at very low prices during the harvest period in order to meet their needs. “Forced sales are therefore a major rationale for the creation of cereal banks. Farmer organizations believe that traders (middlemen) exploit villagers by charging unfairly high interest rates when they provide cereals on credit and demand in-kind repayment after harvest.”
Mr. Sowe said at times when a villager borrows a bag of millet from traders in the hungry season, he pays twice after harvest, giving the middlemen a huge profit within few hours more than what the farmer could not make in the whole season of his cultivation. “The scheme will involve all the different groups in the communities.”
He thanked the management of FASDEP for the support, saying the scheme targets to benefit 5000 households and 304 already registered family farmers of NACOFAG in the areas of access to quality seeds, fertilizer, inputs, employment and capacity building.