Officials said the tour is aimed at getting first-hand information of some of the challenges women gardeners encounter within the country.
Speaking to journalists at Bakau and Banjulinding women horticultural gardens, Pateh Baldeh, President of NoGJWCA-The Gambia, said the purpose of the visit was to get first-hand information on some of the constraints the women gardeners face.
“This is our second leg tour of visiting women gardens. We have previously visited the Bakau women horticultural garden, thus we also decided to come to Banjulinding women horticultural garden where we can also see by ourselves, and to know exactly what are the challenges and the developments in this horticultural garden,” Mr. Baldeh said.
The visit, he explained, is not about “witch hunting”. However, it is to avail them the opportunity to work with development partners as well as local women farmers in the country with a view to knowing their problems.
“We intend to travel throughout the country and talk to people, especially women farmers. The network and its partner Star GSM want to look into all types of sectors. Our objectives among others are to empower Gambian women amid of improving their living condition.”
According to him, plans are in the pipeline for the network to develop a magazine at the end of its countrywide tour, saying the magazine is aimed at empowering Gambian women.
“We want to come with this magazine in order to see how best we can work closely with women, development partners and other stakeholders especially those that are on the drive of supporting women such as UN agencies, FAO, ECOWAS, EU, and Action-Aid International among others.”
He thanked the management of Star GSM for the support, saying: “With the little support we have from Star GSM whom we are partnering with, we want to contribute our quota towards the development and advancement of Gambian women.”
Lamin Kaba, chief executive officer of Star GSM Company, spoke at length on the significance of their visit, saying it is also aimed at extending a helping hand to the women that are working in the gardens in order to improve their working conditions.
He added: “My team will be meeting with some women gardeners and discuss the issues affecting them with a view to come out with tangible solutions that can improve their agricultural activities.”
The government, he went on, needs to give more support to the Bakau women garden for the fact that it is a big garden in the country.
“We will meet stakeholders from the government especially those at the ministry of agriculture and the women gardeners in order to share ideas that would be used to improve the garden for the betterment of the women working there and the garden sustainability,” he said, adding that they will continue on their visit to other women gardens across the country in order to improve their performance.
Mariama Samateh, a gardener at the Bakau Women garden thanked the team for their visit, while describing their move as a step towards the empowerment of women.
“Currently we are not working in the garden. We used to cultivate rice during this time of the year. However, still now nothing has been done because we got information from the Ministry of Agriculture that they will be spraying the entire garden before we embark on any gardening activities.”
The constraints the women gardeners raised among others were the lack of proper storage facilities, fencing and water shortage. The coronavirus pandemic, they said, has greatly affected them due to the closure of the border.