Most farms in rural Gambia are cultivated by labor. However, in recent times, farmers have complained of losing their labor due to rural exodus.
Most of these migrants are young people who could cultivate the land but preferred to go to urban centers to seek white-collar jobs, which makes farming very unproductive in rural areas.
And this, according to rural farmers, is hurting the agricultural industry in the provinces.
Sedia Ceesay, the first child in a family of 17 from Sami Pachonki village in the Central River Region (CRR) Sami district who now lives temporarily with his uncle in Abuko, described climate change as a factor contribution to his departure from the village for the urban center.
“With this climate problem, my family’s agricultural products are no longer what they used to be, and so that prompted me to leave for the urban center,” he said, adding that he now works as a part-time construction worker.
According to research, the massive movement of people from rural areas to urban centers also has many negative effects. These include an increase in the ratio of crime rates, prostitution, overcrowding, traffic jams, high dependency ratio, shortage of jobs, low agricultural production, among others.
Nfansu Darboe, 36, who lives in Kiang Kwinella and has been farming for more than 15 years, said rural agriculture was losing its shape and this could slowly lead to the downfall of Gambian agriculture.
“It is expected that young people will take over the agricultural sector especially in rural farms because these count more in the agricultural sector. But unfortunately the farms are losing their workforce because the energetic young people who should to operate are all leaving for the Kombo (urban centers) and I can’t afford to buy machines that can do some of this work,” Mr. Darboe said.
Agriculture can help reduce poverty, increase incomes and improve food security for the 80% of the world’s poor who live in rural areas and work mainly in agriculture.
Research has shown that the Gambian economy is based on agriculture, tourism and remittances.
Poverty and food insecurity are widespread, and nearly half of its estimated 2 million people live in poverty. Forty percent of the inhabitants live in rural areas where 73.9 percent live below the poverty line, even though most agricultural production is concentrated in rural Gambia.
More than 60 percent of Gambians depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Farmers and agricultural workers, especially women and young people, constitute a large proportion of the poor and extremely poor.
Ansumana Camara from Kiang Kaif said the migration has affected agricultural work in their communities. On the other hand, they are happy for the young people to travel as they send remittances to their families and engage in village development activities.
“The majority of our energetic people are either in the Kombo or outside the country and they are contributing to the development of our community. They have helped bring street lights into the community and improve the livelihood of their families,” he said.
Nyang Njie, an economist, said the country’s economy relies heavily on agriculture for its sustainability, especially rural agriculture because it accounts for more crops.
“In terms of the food chain, supply and export, most of what we eat comes from rural Gambia. Rural-urban migration has led to a drop in production and therefore the economy of the country is automatically affected. because tonnage and quality crops.”
“It translates into low export figures and it translates into less earned revenue,” Mr Njie said.
Mr. Njie added that The Gambia would only develop if the agricultural sector was prosperous and productive as it would export through which the country would earn foreign exchange and also be a supplier in the food chain.
According to Ebrima Ceesay, a social commentator, if rural areas are developed with recreation centers, it could help curb the increase in rural-urban migration and restore the agricultural sector to its lost glory.
“Development involves accessibility to good road networks, safe and clean drinking water, quality education, electricity, decent housing, better health facilities and a general improvement in the standard of living. If these things are available in rural communities, there will be no reason to travel to urban areas and the more energetic can return to the land while working part-time elsewhere without leaving the rural areas” , did he declare.
There has always been a huge development gap between rural and urban areas. Rural communities make up 42.2% of the country’s population but hold 60% of its poor, according to research.
Most of these people depend solely on agricultural productivity for sustainable livelihoods. Even though climatic uncertainty and the rapid loss of labor due to migration minimize agricultural growth, the others who remain still need the farm to avoid starvation.