EYEAFRICA TV: Toniataba, The Gambia: This year’s low rainfall have become a nightmare for many farmers in The Gambia, creating fear that it could cause adverse poor harvest, particularly on those who sowed their crops during the first rains in June.
Foday Sanneh, a farmer from Lower River Region (LRR) village of Toniataba suggested for government to put in place a system that will provide holistic response in real-time for any changes that occur in the rainfall pattern and any effect on the crops.
Apparently, Gambian small scale farmers largely depend on rain fed agriculture farming with just some few commercial farming companies, mainly foreign own. The main cash crop in The Gambia is groundnut. 80 percent of the population of just over 2 million people, depend on agriculture for food and cash income. The farming economy is the only means of income creation for the majority of rural families most of whom live below the poverty line.
Mr. Sanneh said agriculture, which is one of the world’s oldest industries and underpinning human settlement throughout history, is undergoing a fundamental change.
He said first physical water scarcity can occur when there is simply not enough water to meet all the demands when use outpaces replenishment. “This results from increasing demands for water, spurred by challenges like climate change, urbanization, dietary change and industrial development,” he said.
With about 54% of the land area a good quality arable land (5,500 square kilometers), Gambia has the potential to become self-sufficient in food with even a surplus for export.
But because the agriculture sector is dominated by farmers who only apply traditional system of farmers and do not have regular access to agriculture information, their harvest remain low and limited to usually only family consumption and for seed.
Mr. Sanneh said water scarcity exists, but people who need it most are usually left out by inequitable or otherwise flawed institutions, saying women farmers are particularly disadvantaged and they are often under represented when it comes to ownership and management of irrigation system.
“As part of services, farmers can access smartphone application providing all data and real-time updates regarding water supply and unusual weather forecast,” Mr. Sanneh said.
In some cases, enough water is technically available but increased competition over it causes local or intermittent scarcity for example, when an upstream irrigation scheme consumes too much water, downstream farmers are left out to do without.