9 November 2012

Gambia: Activista in West Coast Region Land Grabbing Is a Problem - Says Women Farmer

During their dialogue with the farmers in the West Coast Region on the 17th of October 2012, the meeting has taken place at the Governor's Office in Brikama.

The Women farmers cited land grabbing as one problem they think is confronting the Region at the detriment of farm land.

The farmers from the Fonis and Kombo East told Activista that land as of now is not a problem for them since they can access the land on a temporal basis but that their main problem is the salt water intrusion into their rice fields as well as the erosion also depositing sand into their rice fields.

However, other farmers from the other part of West Coast informed Activista that farmland is becoming a big problem in areas like Kombo Central, Kombo South and Kombo North as land grabbing and land sales are becoming the order of the day.

The women farmers revealed that they do not have control or ownership of land.

In opening the forum for discussion, the Coordinator of Activista Muhammed Lamin Saidykhan told the farmers that Activista the Gambia is the Youth Arm of Actionaid the Gambia that is Advocating for an end to hunger and poverty in the Gambia and that hunger and poverty cannot be eradicated in the absence of farming and no farming can take place without land.

Thus, he said, it is the very reason why they have embarked on a journey for 'hunger free Gambia' by visiting all the regions of the country and dialoguing with the farmers on the issues of access, control and ownership of land.

He told the farmers that their theme this year is "land is life for farmers" and since land is life for farmers he said, then they (farmers) particularly the women farmers who produce the bulk of the food we consume, must have access, control and ownership of the land.

Saidykhan told the farmers that they are the ones living in the region and should therefore reflect on the issues of land accessibility, control and ownership and they as activists, would listen to them and document their concerns and then put them before their representatives who are the law makers for consideration.

He concluded that Actionaid and Activista are calling for legally enforceable, transparent and right-based regulatory frameworks that ensure security of land tenure and protect women and small scale farmers against land grabbing.

During the discussion, Women farmers lamented that they do not control or own land and went further to lament the lack of farm inputs and implements, the high cost of fencing materials, the high cost electricity for the pumping of water into their gardens etc.

They called on their representatives to help them with their constraints.

After the discussion, the issues raised by the farmers were put in a demand card which was presented to the Governor Lamin Sanneh to append his signature as a confirmation that the views on the demand card are a true representation of the constraints of the farmers in his region.

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