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MP probes fertilizer sale to farmers

Apr 7, 2010, 2:23 PM

The National Assembly Member for Lower Niumi constituency, Hon. Cherno Cham, has requested for an update on the state of the accounts on the fertilizer supplied to the regions for sale in 2007 and 2008.

The MP asked for all the accounts and names of all public and private agencies or individuals who owe the state as at 31st December 2009. According to Hon. Cham, the accounts were not reconciled since December 2008.

In response, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Momodou S. Kah, told the lawmakers that the Ministry of Agriculture conducted three reconciliation exercises on the fertilisers distributed and sold through the regional Governors.

Mr. Kah said that the latest reconciliation exercise was in November 2009, after the arrival of the fertiliser stock bought by the Gambia Government in September 2009 in preparation for the 2010 cropping season.

He said that during the period 2007 to date, "there were in all three consignments of fertilizers totalling 173, 216 bags equivalent to D 111,584, 873 that were sold through Regional Governors."

He added that as at November 2009, which was the latest reconciliation carried out by the Ministry, there was a physical stock balance of 62, 672 bags representing the value of D40, 736, 800 and a total cash sale of D42, 619,035. Together this amounted to D83, 355,835 leaving an outstanding balance of D28, 229,038.

Mr. Kah further revealed that his Ministry deals with the regional Governors to sell the fertilizer either directly to the farming community or through their own appointed agents.

Asked how soon the arrears will be paid to the government, Mr. Kah his Ministry is vigorously pursuing the recovery of the outstanding balance of the fertilisers from the regional Governors.

The Deputy Minister added that he has been made to understand that the best of the amount is with the regional fertiliser agents, and that plans are under way to organise a recovery campaign.

Momodou S. Kah in answer to another question said that seasonal agriculture is not ideal for the attainment of food self-sufficiency.

Minister Kah made these remarks in answer to a question raised by the Minority Leader and Member for Kiang West, Momodou K Sanneh , who asked whether his ministry has any plan(s) in future to introduce irrigation systems in the country to enable farmers to work on their farms throughout the year.

"The three month seasonal agricultural farming is not ideal if food self-sufficiency is to be achieved in this country,"  he said, adding that "the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with partners has conceived and elaborated interventions that would address the issue of water availability throughout the year."

"I want to inform this august assembly that the government through the Ministry is currently engaging expert efforts in studies and design that will produce plans with costings for the introduction of agricultural irrigation systems to enable farmers work on their farms all year round," he added.