#Editorial

Farming season is here!

Jun 9, 2022, 11:17 AM

Agriculture is the highest contributor to the Gambia’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 70% of the population depends on it for their livelihood. However, the sector has suffered a devastating set back in the past due to poor leadership and farming implements to enable the country to feed itself.

The Gambia is among few countries blessed with abundant arable land to promote crop production. But from the look of things, some of these arable lands are turning into residential areas especially those in the Kombos and The Greater Banjul Area.

The Gambia used to export tons of groundnuts on a large scale, but that trend has dropped significantly in the past years. Recently, the Department of Water Resources in collaboration with its sister unit, the Meteorological and Hydrological Services presented the 2022 Seasonal Rainfall Predictions (SRP).

This comes as most farmers in the country have started clearing vast farm lands ahead of the 2022 cropping season. Weather conditions are one of the biggest factors in crop production. Though erratic weather patterns are beyond human control, it is possible to adapt to or mitigate the effects of adverse weather if a forecast of the expected weather can be obtained in time.

Timely and accessible information is vital in reducing weather-related losses and enhancing societal benefits, including protection of life and properties. With much anticipation in the air, farmers are predicting a successful cropping season.

Interestingly, the Smiling Coast boasts one of the most favourable weather conditions in this part of Africa, though rainfall patterns in The Gambia for the past years have been shifting. This has made farming more unpredictable and ever-challenging especially among rural farmers.

When faced with unpredictable challenges, the type of crop to cultivate sometimes becomes even more difficult. This always results in low crop yields.

Studies have shown that most farmers mostly lose the first of their early crops to weeks of drought after sowing. In some areas, farmers have even started sowing crops like millet, early millet (coos), corn and even rice.

Prioritising agriculture is the only way to develop this country. And we can turn The Gambia into a leading groundnut or rice exporter if we have the right manpower, equipment and the political will. Let’s contribute to the development of agriculture in the country.   

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