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Female gardeners may go out of job during the rains

April 24, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai

Sentu Turay
Sadiatu Kargbo harvesting potato leaves in their vegetable gardens in Kambia

Female vegetable gardeners in Kambia Town, northern Sierra Leone, may go out of job during the raining season.

At a time when everybody was busy going through the Voter and Civil Registration exercise, the female vegetable gardeners in Kambia Town  were busy  watering, weeding and harvesting their crops in order to eke out a living.

Speaking to Concord Times at her garden recently, Sento Turay, a woman in her mid-thirties, said she does cultivate garden eggs, pepper, okra, potato and cassava leaves and corn.

“Doing vegetable gardening in wetlands here is seasonal. We can only work during the dry season when the water content is relatively low but in the rains the wetlands will be flooded. That impedes us from cultivating  vegetable garden,” she said.

She disclosed that during the rainy season, she would embark on micro credit scheme and return cultivating her vegetable garden during the dries.

She said because of the increase in the price of fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides, they have not been realising much from their trade.

“I sell two small bundles of potato leaves for five hundred Leones (Le500). Sometimes, after harvesting, I normally sell at least seventy thousand Leones (Le70,000). The proceeds are used to pay school fees, buy laundering soaps, and feed the home. There are many financial problems that I would like to solve after harvest but because I’m not realising much from this trade, some of them remain unsolved,” she said.

The problem now, according to her, was that many people were no longer buying vegetables from them because of the economic hardship within the community, noting that they were living in poverty stricken communities where most of the residents were not accustom to buying vegetables in that part of the country.

“Two of my daughters are attending a private girls’ school here in Kambia. I pay thirty-five thousand Leones (Le35,000) per term for each of them,” she said.

Another woman, Sadiatu Kargbo, said vegetable gardening at times caused  serious body pains, but they did not have an alternative.

“There is a lot of suffering than profit in this job especially in this part of the country. Sometimes, we don’t have money to buy fertilizers and insecticides. We spend more than we realize as proceeds,” she stated.

Paramount Chief of Magbema chiefdom, P.C Bai FarmaTass Bubu N’gbak IV, said from time in memorial, men and women have been engaged  in cultivating vegetable garden at the bank of the Kolenten River.

“Previously, the gardeners used to harvest and give some of the vegetables to the chiefs free of cost as a means of taxation in the chiefdom. But now, they don’t pay a cent to the chiefdom as tax and we don’t push them to do so because of the prevailing economic hardship in the chiefdom,” he said.

He added that the chiefdom did not ask them to pay so that they could realize profit from their trade.

P.C N’gbak IV said the chiefdom authorities will not permit anyone to construct permanent or make-shift structures closer to the wetlands, because that would disturb the source of livelihood for the gardeners.

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