An estimated 200 women farmers have lost their plots of mint, lettuce, white radish, spring onions and parsley. Farmers in Gloucester Village urgently need seeds and manure after the August 14 intense flooding destroyed their fields, washing away their plantations, which threatens their livelihood and the supply of vegetables.
The most affected areas are Gloucester and Regent in the mountainous village in the western rural district.
More than 1,000 vegetable beds at Bence Town were covered with stones and heaps of gravel after the flood that cut through the tributary flowing to Kissy Brook, which brought down a good deal of the loose materials on the plantations.
Fatmata Bangura said she has been a farmer for about 20-years. “The rain has destroyed all of our plantations. It has really affected us that are farming along the hillside. The water swept the plantation down into the swamp. The swamps were also covered with gravel. We are starting all over again,” she said.
Fatmata sounded depressed when talking about her losses and said she and her fellow farmers are now working with the hope that the rains are slowing. “Everybody is crying. There is no one that is not affected by this. I lost more than 90 beds. If the market is good, I used to sell at Le60,000 for one bed. Even to take care of our children is a problem. No one is helping us. When we have money we pay the youths around to help us.”
The farmers are faced with the challenge of clearing the mass of debris, with no proper equipment. “We have started to clear the grass, because we want to start planting. How do we survive with our children with all of this?”
Maseray Bangura who lost about 15 beds expressed similar sentiments. “The quantum of destruction that we saw has never happened before; not at this scale. We lost everything,” she moaned.
“Our gardens are destroyed. No more markets for us and we don’t know what to do. I lost 25 beds in the swamp,” said Adama Kamara. “We need tools to clear the debris before we can start planting again,” she said.
Mountain Village Farmer Chairman, Frederick Hanciles, said that starting over will not be easy for them. “We went to the Ministry of Agriculture and yesterday a team was here to assess the damage. They were also shocked to see the level of damage and they promised to send engineers to do a proper assessment.”
Jane Tea Kabba Sei Sillah, District Agriculture Officer, said that they will be sending a comprehensive report of their findings regarding the damage the water did to the vegetables and growing site.
“Our report will be sent today to the Minister with pictorial evidence and whatever recommendation we receive we will start to work on it. Those farmers are really hard working and they help drive the vegetable market in Freetown. This is a whole livelihood for these community famers.”
By Zainab Joaque
Wednesday September 13, 2017.