After a poor harvest characterised by erratic rainfall gripped Sub-Saharan Africa, the government of The Gambia through the minister of Agriculture has declared 2011-2012 farming season a failure resulting from severe crop failures and a corresponding soaring of food prices.
A media release from the Ministry, signed by the Permanent Secretary Ada Gaye, have it that: “The post-harvest assessment of the 2011 farming season, which was characterised by below normal and poorly distributed rainfall, indicated a reduction in total crop production of more than 70%” — a serious cause for alarm.
In a more alarming note, the release describes the harvest a “very poor”, describing the little that was harvested from rice, groundnuts, millets, maize and sorghum as “unsatisfactory”, and could barely guarantee self-provisioning of 2 months”. In an average year, self-provisioning is put at 4-6 months, which means the ‘famine season’ is expected to start early compare to previous seasons.
This release could be seen as a document that resonates a news MarketPlace reported two weeks ago, in which a potential food crisis in the region was portrayed. The report has it that several countries would be affected more severely this year and that up to 11 million people would be affected in the West Africa region, if UN’s early warning systems are ignored.
However, in response to this severe emerging crisis, the government of The Gambia is mobilising all available emergency funds for immediate action to assist the most affected, and calls on the international community and NGOs to assist in addressing current needs and preventing further deterioration of the situation.
The release adds that the poor harvest impacts is made worst by skyrocketing global food prices, which is severely affecting under-privileged farming communities.
“This poor harvest is also exacerbated by the soaring world food prices, which in turn have resulted in the rapid depletion of household incomes. While food stocks in some of the major markets/areas are still at an acceptable level, price increases are progressively becoming a severe strain on the incomes of poor households and hence their access to food,” it reads.
In response to this emerging crisis, according to the release, the government of The Gambia is mobilising all available emergency funds for immediate action to assist the most affected, and calls on the international community and NGOs to assist in addressing current needs and preventing further deterioration of the situation.
Furthering reading, the release unveils that responsible authorities have prepared a report identifying food, seed and farm inputs deficit for the upcoming 2012 cropping season.
“Government intends to start in earnest a seed multiplication program for the main food and cash crops, and provide general relief food distributions to the entire farming population particularly those in the hardest hit regions and districts,” the release highlights.
Immediately response from the International community has been solicited, as national response would not satisfy the potential crisis that is about to unveil in the West African country.
“The resources urgently needed to realize the above is well beyond what the national capability can guarantee and thus our resort to ask for external help from our friends and development partners.”
The National Seeds requirement is put at 25, 000 Metric Ton (MT) valued at three hundred million Gambian dalasi (US$10 Million); fertilizer requirement is estimated at 37, 500 MT valued at two hundred and forty million Gambian dalasi (US$8 Million); and Food Relief is estimated at 40, 000 MT valued at one hundred and fifty million dalasi (US$5 Million).
“Excellencies, the current situation poses a serious threat to both food security and nutrition security which in turn will negatively impact the Gambia’s socio-economic development considering our serious resource constraint to address them. Accordingly, we join our sister affected Sahelian countries in declaring the 2011-2012 cropping season, one of severe crop failure,” the release reads.