Sittokoto Kassama, ward councillor for Salikenni has lamented over the current state of agriculture and system of farming in The Gambia, acknowledging that groundnut still remains the main cash crop of the country.
Kassama, a former agriculturalist was speaking in a recent exclusive with The Point.
He maintained that 80% of a population of just over two million depends entirely on agriculture for food and cash income.
Farming, he went on, is the only means of income generation for the majority of rural dwellers, most of who live below the poverty line.
“The Sahelian zone has a Sahelian micro-climate with open dry season savannah vegetation. Rainfall is unpredictable and less than 600 mm total annually with an effective crop growing season of less than 79 days. Soils have low water retention capacity and this is a high risk area for long duration crops,” he said.
According to him, about 54% of the land area in The Gambia is arable land (5,500 square kilometer) out of which about 39% (1,880 square kilometer) is currently under cultivation mainly by subsistence farmers.
“About 810 square kms representing 81,000 hectares are cultivated by means of irrigation in the Central River and Upper River Regions.”
Kassama indicated that about 2,300 hectares of the potential areas, are currently under irrigation, noting that crop production is quite diversified with cash crops such as cotton and groundnuts.
These crops, he added, are mainly grown in the up-land areas and rice in lowland reverie (rain-fed swamps or under irrigation) areas for both subsistence and cash crops.
He disclosed that other principal subsistence cereal crops grown are maize, sorghum and millet and that 51% of the farmers in this sector are women.
He thus urged the government to give more attention to the agricultural sector if the country is to attain its food self sufficiency drive.