Now they pull in one direction
Since 5 years they cultivate vegetables on a total area of 12 ha. They sell it at the local market of the provincial capital Farafenni in Central Gambia. With that they generate some modest income which they didn’t have before. Actually, the group consists of about 400 women of 4 neighbouring villages which still don’t have electricity and which, until recently, also didn’t have potable water. They belong to the poorest of the poor from a global point of view, but also from a national point of view. 74 per cent of the people in rural areas in the Gambia live below the poverty line, meaning they have less than 1.25 USD of income a day. Nevertheless, they are happy now that they can make some money and can feed their families, and their children no more get sick of contaminated water. The solar pumping systems supply water to irrigate the gardens, as well as potable water for the households.
Last season they grew various species, especially large quantities of onions and tomatoes. They couldn’t sell or process all of them, and part of the perishable tomatoes got rotten. Although we had made a plan with them what should be cultivated in the gardens in which quantities, it did not work. They were not used to coordinate and to cooperate. They belong to 4 different ethnics with 4 different languages, and almost all of them are not alphabetized. We asked them, how they wanted to continue? Should each of them work on her own, or should all of them pull in one direction? “We can make it together”, was their statement.
They want to reach a common goal. All the 4 communities want to plan production and sales of vegetables together. What happened that moment was the birth of a cooperative. One cannot dictate a process like that. People have to be ready and willing to start this trip into the unknown.
They are gonna’ make, we are sure. And it will be interesting to see, how they make it. Good luck.
We shall keep you posted.