By: Modou Touray
In a bid to combat the effects of desertification on agricultural production and food security, the umbrella body of farmers’ organizations in the Gambia mobilized their members to embark on tree planting at Kafuta on Thursday 11th August 2022. Food security is a major concern to the farmers hence the imported foodstuffs are costly.
According to Mr Alieu Sowe, the National Coordinator of the National Coordinating Organization for Farmers’ Associations in the Gambia (NACOFAG), the tree planting service is prompted by the indiscriminate cutting down of forest trees, which he said if not urgently replaced would contribute to low productivity in agriculture, food shortages and further causes severe desertification.
“The aim of the exercise is for Farmers and Forest Producer Organizations (FFPOs) to contribute to the regeneration of the lost Forest and biodiversity for use by the generations yet unborn. The impact of climate change, land degradation, weakness of the soil fertility, and inadequate and poor rainfall system toward Crop and Forest products production, are all due to the changing nature of our natural resources endowments.”
Desertification is land degradation in typically dry areas resulting from various factors including climatic variations and human activities. It is also a process by which fertile land changes itself into a desert by losing its flora and fauna. In the Gambia, the north Bank region is largely affected by the loss of forest which affected Agric production in that area.
“The National tree planting exercise was conducted in five Agricultural and Forest Regions of the Gambia: Kerr Jarga Jobe, Jokadu in the North Bank Region, Jellan Bakadagi in the Central River Region, Sareh Madi Jendeh, Central River Region, Jarra Bureng in the Lower River Region and Kafuta Community Forest West Coast Region. This Thursday’s planting exercise is the final in this series.”
Provision of 3000 seedlings of various species including Gmelina, Cashew, Oranges, Mangoes, Guavas, Pawpaw and Lime among others.
According to Alieu Sowe, a total of 3000 seedlings of various species including Gmelina, Cashew, Oranges, Mangoes, Guavas, Pawpaw and Lime among others were planted. “The seedlings will also be provided to individual farmers and foresters at households for sustainable management ”
The planting of trees is a way of replacing the lost forest cover thereby minimizing the effects of climate change and to a large extent enhancing fertile land for agricultural production thereby boosting food security.
“In a desert, the soil is mostly Sandy which is not ideal for crop cultivation”
NACOFAG is the coordinating body of all farmers’ organisations in the Gambia. By organizing, farmers can easily access information needed to produce, add value, market their commodities and develop effective linkages with input agencies such as financial service providers, as well as output markets.
The basic mission of farmers’ associations is to represent farmers in order to ensure their participation in the formulation and implementation of policies and agricultural development actions amongst other things.