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Better late than never

May 19, 2015, 11:52 AM

The National Food Security Processing and Marketing Corporation, formerly Gambia Groundnut Corporation (GGC), has announced the reduction of the price of 50kg bag of fertilizer from D1,250 to D750, with immediate effect.

This follows President Yahya Jammeh’s approval of such reduction in a drive to promote the Vision 2016 food self-sufficiency initiative.

There can’t be any better news for the 70 per cent of Gambian population whose lives depend on agriculture than this reduction.The initial cost of fertilizer is beyond the reach of the majority of farmers.

Even though farmers are the poorest in our society, they are better than one another financially, and research has shown that the fertilizer use rate is higher among farmers who are a bit better off.

The price factor has been the main hindrance for the poorer farmers.It has also been one of the main challenges of transforming farming in The Gambia from subsistence to a commercially oriented one in face of declining soil fertility and soil erosion.

The reduction of fertilizer price would certainly see increased fertilizer accessibility, affordability, and the subsequent increase in production and productivity.Fertilizers are strong factors in efforts at increasing food production and attaining food security.

However, in order to wholly and fully address the problem of fertilizer availability and price volatility in The Gambia, the government or perhaps a public-private partnership should be considered to establish fertilizer manufacturing plant in the country.

This will go a long way in ensuring timely availability of fertilizer at all times in the country, because it is not uncommon for fertilizer to be in short supply during the peak farming season, at a time when farmers need it most.

In the meantime, the reduction of the price of 50kg bag of fertilizer from D1,250 to D750 is one of the greatest moves of President Jammeh and his government to back their commitment to support Gambian farmers.

Reducing the price of fertilizer is an important part of efforts to increase incomes and improve living standards of farmers in The Gambia.

“Two out of every five people on Earth today owe their lives to the higher crop outputs that fertilizer has made possible..”

Bill Gates