Despite Abandoning Their Farmlands at Casamance Border
By Nelson Manneh
Farmers residing along border villages in Foni have revealed they anticipate good yield this year despite abandoning their farmlands at the border of the Southern region of Casamance in Senegal.
This reporter recently visited some border villages in Foni Kansala to engage them on their expectation on this year’s farming season after they complained during the beginning of the rainy season that they have left their fertile farmlands due to the Senegalese military raids.
“We may not have enough harvest to sell, but the crops that we cultivated around our compounds are giving us signs of a good harvest. There is enough rain water too, and we have not encountered long periods of drought this year,” Mamajah Camara told this reporter.
Mr Camara said he cultivated less than two hectares contrary to the five hectares of groundnut he cultivated last year.
“My farmland this year is just behind my compound. None of us used our farmlands that are close to the borders because at the time we were about to clear our lands in preparation for the rainy season, there was a lot of shooting at the border,” he said. Mr Camara said the border villages in Foni will face a lot of challenges in meeting their family’s needs as most of them cultivated small farmlands.
Landing Badjie from Kapa village said he planted coos and groundnuts, but on a small scale because the farmland around his compound is not big, noting that he was afraid to use his other farmlands that are close to the border.
“My family has big farmlands that lie close to the border, and in fact part of this land is in Casamance. We cultivate groundnuts yearly on this land which is very fertile, but this year, none of those lands have been used,” he said. Mr. Badjie said he even started clearing part of his farmland at the border before the raining season commenced, but he later abandoned it because of the Senegalese military drone flying over the territory.
“I was afraid and decided to stop going there because these people can decide to kill you for no reason,” he said.
Momodou Jallow, another farmer met in Ballen village, said the guns are now silent at the borders, but alleged that the Senegalese military drone continues to patrol the area.
“We usually see the Senegalese military drone in the area from time to time not like before, but they still monitor the border. This scared some of us not to enter the forest. I used to fetch firewood from the forest and sell it, but I have stopped doing it and this makes life difficult for me,” he said. Mr. Jallow said in the past, all he did for a living was fetching firewood and burning charcoal, but said this is a nightmare for him now. Mr. Jallow said he used to see Gambian soldiers patrol the border villages.
“Many people think that the Senegalese military raid on the border is over. The situation is calm now, but this does not mean that everything is over because the Senegalese military drone still enters Gambian territory and we usually see it even from our homes,” he said.