Torgeir Fyhri 1998

The Gambia: 
The Complexity of Modernising the Agricultural Sector in Africa

Appendix: Interviews conducted in Villages around Farafenni

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APPENDIX: Interviews conducted in Villages around Farafenni

   Maka Farafenni


CHAPTER 1: Introduction
CHAPTER 2: Methodical Considerations
CHAPTER 3: Theoretical Framework
CHAPTER 4: Introducing The Gambian Agricultural Sector
CHAPTER 5: The Development of the Agriculture Sector 1983-96
CHAPTER 6: Responses to household Constraints and Farm Risk
CHAPTER 7: Testing of hypotheses and Theoretical Discussion
CHAPTER 8: Concluding Remarks
APPENDIX - Interviews conducted in villages around Farafenni


- conducted by Rainer Chr. Hennig & Torgeir Fyhri
- with assistance and translation of Samba S. Bah & Demba Jallow
Note: Questions and answers specifically related to Hennig's thesis (leadings questions 5-12) are not presented in this appendix)

- leading questions


1 - Name of the village

2 - Number of participants (male/female)

3 - Ethnic groups represented in village

4 - Number of compounds in village


13 - How long is the typical fallow period?

14 - How was the fallow system before, and when did it change?

15 - What is done to maintain fertility?
[Followed by questions about yield development]


16 - Is there any shortage on land?

17 - Has the area under cultivation increased or decreased the last 10 years? Why?


18 - Is there enough labour during harvest time?

19 - Has the labour situation changed the last 10 years? Why?
[Followed by questions about how the land and labour situation affects the village]

20 - How many young people leave the village nowadays? Why?


21 - What is the main crop now, and what else is grown?

22 - Which crops have increased or decreased relative to each other the past 10 years?

23 - Why has this change occurred?

24 - Which technical improvements have been introduced the last 10 years?

25 - Which new plants and variants have been introduced?
[Followed by questions about development in horticulture]


26 - Which goods produced in the village are sold on the market?

27 - Where is it sold?

28 - How big part of the groundnut production is sold to Senegal?
[Followed by questions about why so little is sold to Senegal]

Discussion about general development
(loose questions)

- Is the village content with the general development the last 10 years?

- What are their main problems? (men and women asked separately).

- What has been positive in the development?

- How do they assess the future? Why?

- Invitation to discussion and counterquestions.


The interview form is qualitative. Questions are adapted to previous answers. If special circumstances are mentioned, or surprising answers are given, follow-up questions will be asked to investigate the matter more thoroughly. Side-steps to the main line of questioning are allowed, if they occur (from interviewer or interview objects).


Village # 1


2 - Men; 7 Women; 10

3 - Mandinka, (wolof, tiglibonkas, fulas, serero)

4 - 23 compounds

13/4 - Of 3 fields, 2 would been cultivated and 1 lie fallow. The cultivated fields changed between groundnut and millet. Now there is no longer use of fallow periods, and the cultivation of each field changes each year between groundnuts and millet.

15 - To maintain soil fertility, manure from cattle is used (and shifting between nuts and millet). Still the yields have dropped lately, and this is attributed to lack of rain.

16 - There is no shortage of land, but a problem of erosion.

17 - There has been no change (except for some loss due to erosion).

18 - Generally there is enough labour in the village, though some household have a shortage and could have produced more if they had more labour available.
-(Later statement: Those with enough labour are in the position to produce enough rice, without having to buy imported rice. About 90% have to buy rice).

19 - There has been no change.

20 - Many young people (mostly men) leave the village nowadays.

21/3 - Ten years ago groundnuts and rice were the main crop, but now they are produced less, because of pests and bushpig. Particularly groundnut production has been reduced, while early millet and rice have increased.

24 - Technical improvements are more timely planting and more farming implements (seeder, weeder and groundnut lifter) and further oxenisation.

25 - New variants of maize and groundnuts (73-33) have been introduced. Further health personal have introduced gardening plants as cringcring, amarantos and chili pepper. The advise was to increase the nutritional value and increase the intake of vitamins.

26 - Sold on market are groundnuts, livestock and milk, chicken, fish and garden products (tomatoes, pepper and amarantos).
Millet and rice are the only products grown, not sold on market.

27 - Products are mainly sold to the Co-operative and the lumo (weekly market). Fish is also sold to Farafenni.

28 - In the past 3 years some (approx. 3/8) was sold to Senegal, because the prices were higher there. Before that, they have never sold to Senegal. Senegalese buyers came to the village to buy, while in The Gambia, they have to transport the groundnuts themselves to Farafenni.
They don't want to sell all to Senegal, because they want to get access to the loans and services offered by the Co-operatives.

- Totally the villagers are content with the situation. Their situation has gotten easier because of better communication (a new road has been built), better co-operation with neighbouring villages and technical improvements. All in all, there has been a positive development.

- Among the main problems, is the far distance to Farafenni. There is no health worker in the village, and the nearest health care is in Farafenni. Further, salt intrusion has destroyed much of the rice production. There is also lack of materials for the fisheries. The women especially complain about the hard access to the rice fields, which keeps them from producing more rice. They state, that therefore, about 90% depend on supplementing their rice consumption with imported rice from the market. Typically, their own rice production is sufficient for about 3-6 months consumption. Some, however, produce enough rice for the whole season, those which have sufficient access to labour.

- The villagers are optimistic for the future, if only there will be enough precipitation. They believe in future development, especially in the potential of rice production.

Village # 2


2 - Men; 6 Women; 7

3 - Fulla (exclusively)

4 - 7 compounds

13 - The village does not use fallows. They only change between growing groundnuts and millet each year.

14 - It has been 30 years since they used fallow periods.

15 - Manure from cattle, donkeys and horses is collected, and used for fertilising (chemical fertilisers are to expensive). However, productivity has dropped, because of lower soil fertility, lesser rainfall and a parasite (striger) on the millet. This has made the food production of the village to drop. Chemical fertiliser was used to some extent, when it was subsidised.

16 - There is a shortage on land.
- The area the village possesses is to small, and the pressure has increased because of immigrants. Expansion is not possible, because they can only use the sandy loam soil for cultivation, the rest of the soil being clay.

17 - There has been no change.

18 - Some households do not have enough labour, but most have.

19 - The situation has not changed.

20 - Just a few young men move out of the village.

21 - Early millet (grown by men) is the most important crop. Other crops are groundnut (men), rice (women) and sesamy (grown by both sexes).
- There is no gardening done, because of little access to water. (Wells would be needed in the garden).

22/3 - There has been no change.

24 - The main technical improvement is the introduction of the Sine-hoe-package in each household. Drought animals were introduced before this period.

25 - New varieties of sesamy and groundnut (73-33) have been introduced.

26 - Products sold on the market are groundnuts, sesamy, livestock (in big quantity when there is food shortage) and chicken. Milk is not sold, because production is not big enough.
27 - They sell their products in Farafenni and on the weekly markets. Groundnuts have to be transported to Farafenni, which is easier now, that they can use ox-cars on the road. Further, traders come to the village to buy chicken, sheep and goats.

28 - They don't sell to Senegal, because they are afraid to jeopardise their relationship with the Co-operative, and because they don't trust the Senegalese to pay them.

- The general development in the last decade has not been positive. They are not satisfied with today's situation.

- The main problem is that they cannot produce enough to feed the village. There are more problems in farming now, because of pests and lowered soil fertility. There is lack of government assistance, specially when it comes to fertilisers and farming implements. If they had this, they would be able to feed themselves. The women complain in particular, that there is not enough water and fencing material to start gardening.

- Positive is that technical improvements have done the work easier. Further transport has become easier (ox cars).

- Though they are not satisfied, they are rather optimistic for the future. They are eager to plant more trees, but have difficulties in obtaining seedlings.

Village # 3


2 - Men; 6 Women; 4

3 - Mandinka

4 - 17 compounds

13 - Most of the villagers have a fallow system of fallow/cultivation every second year. The same lot shifts between millet/groundnut and fallow every year (the same crop being planted on the lot every second year).
- Some few others, with limited access to land, are shifting between groundnuts, millet and fallow (thereby having a fallow period every third year).

14 - The fallow periods have grown shorter. 10 years ago, a field might be left 3-5 years for fallow. Now this has grown shorter because of improved technology.

15 - To maintain fertility, they keep cattle in the fields. Chemical fertiliser is used by approx. 10% of the villagers. However, fertility has dropped, which is credited to lower soil fertility. Other reasons are less rainfall and that such pests as bushpigs and monkeys have increased in numbers.
-Bushpigs have increased in numbers because there are fewer bush fires.

16 - There generally is no shortage on land, except for some households. There is room for increasing the cultivated area, but people do not like to have land close to the bush because of the wildlife (bushpigs, etc.).

17 - Cultivated land has increased largely on expense of bush and pastures the last years. This was possible due to technical improvements, which gave more time to cultivate more land, and eased the process of clearing land.

18 - Most households have enough labour, but some have "lost" members to school and emigration. These are looking for strange farmers, and pay them to help them. Within the community, it is also possible to get extra help by providing a group with cola nuts (laughter).

19 - The situation is unchanged.

20 - About 25% of the young men move out. Also some women move out (to marry).

21 - Rice (grown by women) is the main crop. Other important crops are early millet (men), groundnuts (men), sesamy (both sexes), sorghum (men) and maize (men). Women also grow a variety of garden plants, such as cassava, sweet potato, pepper, tomatoes, bitter tomato, ocra, egg plants, amarantos, kerengkereng and cucha (sorrel).

22/3 - Ten years ago, rice was even more important than it is now. Less rainfall and salt intrusion have limited this production. It is mostly an increase in early millet that has compensated for the fall in rice production. Gardening has also decreased because of less rainfall. The far distance to the well (500 m) limits watering. Further, there would be queues at the well, if everybody was going to use it for watering.

24 - 10 years ago, all field work was done manual, no the sine-hoe package has been introduced. There has also been built a new pump well, and oxenisation has become more widespread.

25 - There have been introduced new varieties of groundnut (73-33), maize, sesamy (last year) and ocra. Melon and ocra are newly introduced crops.

26 - Everything they produce, except rice, early millet and sorghum is sold on the market. The market products are groundnuts, sesamy, all garden products, ducks, chicken and fish.
- Livestock is only sold in desperate situations.
- Also firewood is sold to Farafenni (a bundle of 18 sticks for D 2).

27 - The products are sold in Farafenni and on the weekly markets. They transport their goods to Farafenni themselves (except for melons, which are picked up in the village). They sell their stocks themselves in Farafenni.

28 - About 25% of the groundnuts are sold to Senegal, the rest goes to the Co-operatives.

- The village is content with the development the past 10 years, as things slowly have grown better.

- The main problems are the availability of water, farming implements, fertiliser and the access to rice fields. They could produce much more rice if they had a road to the fields and some technical improvements. Erosion is also a problem.

Village # 4


2 - Men; 8 Women; 2

3 - Mainly Wolof, and some Mandinka

4 - 53 compounds

13 - There is no fallow period. The cultivation is shifted between groundnut one year, and sesamy or millet the next year.

14 - They have not been using fallow periods for the last 20 years.

15 - To maintain fertility, animals are kept on the fields, and manure from horses and donkeys is collected. A few people buy chemical fertiliser, but that was more widespread in the past. Yields have dropped because of lower soil fertility. A field that would have given 20 bags of groundnuts 7 years ago, now gives less than 10. The reason for this is less fertiliser and less rainfall.
- Lack of capital prevents them form buying fertiliser (even if they know it would pay off).

16 - Since about 100 hectares were taken for the forest park, there has been scarcity of land. There is therefore no room for expansion.

17 - Cultivated land has decreased because of the forest park.

18 - There is enough labour - or even too much (some were "sent" away).
- One person claims, that he alone could cultivate 10 ha now, but if he had fertiliser, he would only need 5 ha.
- On the question, if this situation had had any effect on family planning, the villagers answered, that they now feel it is problematic to have too many children. Therefore some now are practising family planning. (Discussion). There is a general awareness of the issue in the village.

19 - There is more labour than before.

20 - Earlier many young men left the village. Now, that they have a sesamy oil processing plant, some few jobs have been created, and more choose to stay in the village.

21 - Millet is the most important crop, followed by groundnuts, beans, sesamy, maize, vegetables and sorghum.

22/3 - There have been no significant changes. Gardening has decreased some, because the lack of water. Carrying water from the deep well is hard labour. Lately sesamy has increased on the expense of groundnuts. Sesamy is preferred because of better prices, higher drought security and less labour intensity,

24 - There have been no important technical improvements (as they had the sine-hoe package already 10 years ago).

25 - New varieties of groundnut (73-33) and millet (the hairy millet) have been introduced.

26 - Groundnuts, sesamy, vegetables, livestock, chicken and sesamy oil are sold on the market.

27 - The products are sold on the weekly market and in Farafenni.
28 - All is sold to the Gambian Co-operative.
- Patriotism and the services provided by the Co-operative are given as reasons. Further, transport costs are mentioned: The Gambian price is 2 D/kg, while the Senegalese is 2.50 D/kg. Taking 2 bags to Farafenni will cost 5 D, while taking them to Senegal will cost 10 D. Therefore the gain is smaller than it may seem, and there is much more work involved.

- The general development the last ten years is seen as negative by the majority, but not by all.

-The main problem is the dropping yields, caused by the high prices on fertiliser. Less rainfall and increased erosion worsens the situation. In addition, the new forest park gives new scarcity problems with firewood and fencing material. Therefore, the village is growing poorer and poorer.

- The positive is the establishment of the processing mill.

- Disagreement: Some see a generally positive development, with the exception of the forest park - which hasn't done any good.

- Still, all are optimistic about the future development.

Village # 5


2 - Men; 9 Women; 7

3 - Mostly Mandinka, some Yola (and one white American)

4 - 3 compounds

13 - Most fields have fallow periods of 2-4 years, and are then cultivated for one year. There are however some fields which do not have fallow periods.

14 - It has not grown shorter (because of the abundance of land, since many people left the village).

15 - Yields have decreased, even if the pressure has decreased. This is because of a drop in rainfall, salt intrusion and serious erosion. Erosion has occurred because the soil is exhausted and there are very few trees left. To prevent erosion, they now plant in the slope direction and have started tree planting. These responses have helped to stop erosion and winds.

16 - There is now abundance of land.

17 - The village was bigger before, so now there is abundance of land. Many farms had to close down. The people that used to plant rice had to move because of the drop in rainfall and salt intrusion.

18 - There is not enough labour, so it is problematic to produce enough food. It is too expansive to hire labour. form outside.

19 - The labour situation has grown worse the last 10 years because of the emigration.

20 - There are still many young men moving away.

21 - Rice is the main crop. Other crops are millet, vegetables, groundnuts, sorghum, maize and sesamy.

22 - Much less rice is grown now. Else it is the same, except that sesamy has taken a little over for groundnuts.

23 - The shift from groundnuts to sesamy has happened because sesamy is less labour intensive. Less rice is grown because of the reasons that led to emigration.

24 - Technical improvements are the sine-hoe package.

25 - New varieties in groundnut (73-33) and sesamy have been introduced.
- They have a community garden. However, gardening has not increased, because of lack of materials for fencing and lack of wells. There is disagreement wherever the market situation is a problem. They agree on a marketing problem, since there is no specialisation in production.

26 - Groundnuts, sesamy, a little vegetables, chicken and cattle are sold on the market.
- Fisheries: 8 years ago, they had canoes, and produced fish, even for the market. Now they don't have canoes any more, and they only produce a little fish for themselves. They get less than they need.

27 - They sell their products in Farafenni, the weekly markets and to the Co-operatives (Farafenni). They transport the goods to these markets themselves.

28 - None is sold to Senegal, because it is to far away.

- The village men are not impressed by the general development, while the women state that things only have become more difficult.

- The main problems for the women are connected with the growing of rice. Since the rice fields depend on rainfall, they are now giving poorer yields. Also the poor access is a problem, and they state that better access would give them opportunity to produce more. For the men, pests are the biggest problem. There are more (pest-) animals, and there are beetles. They also used to buy fertiliser, but this is to expensive now.

- They are pessimistic about the future, because of lack of fertiliser, erosion problems and emigration.

Village # 6


2 - Men; 18 Women; 2

3 - All are Fulla.

4 - 22 compounds

13 - There is no fallow period, but they change the crop between groundnut and millet/sesamy each year.

14 - They stopped using fallow periods over 20 years ago, because of land availability and farming implements.

15 - The soil is now exhausted, and there are striger parasites. They keep the cattle on the fields for their manure. Fertiliser is only applied by a few, and was much more widespread when it was cheaper. Now, when fertiliser is available, most people are preoccupied with getting food, and cannot spear money for fertiliser. Yields have dropped very much. A field that used to give 20 sacks of groundnuts, now gives less than 10. The reason for this is soil exhaustion.

16 - There is shortage on land.

17 - There has been no change, even if the number of people has increased. If they had more land, they would have cultivated more.

18 - There is enough labour. There actually is not enough work for the labour force.

19 - There have become more people.

20 - Very few people move. Only some young people.

21 - Millet is the most important crop, next to groundnuts (men), maize and sesamy (by women). Only a little vegetables are grown, because they lack fenced areas with wells to grow it in the dry season, when they would have the time.

22/3 - Before, maize used to be the most important. Millet has now taken over, because the rainfall has dropped. Before women used to grow some groundnuts, but they have now reduced and changed to sesamy.

24 - 10 years ago, they only used ploughs, but now every household has the sine-hoe package.

25 - New varieties of groundnut (73-33) and sesamy have been introduced. They are also waiting for a new variety of millet, which Chamen has promised to provide.

26 - Groundnuts, sesamy, livestock, chicken and milk is sold on the market. They also sell half of their vegetables production.

27 - Goods are sold to Farafenni, weekly markets and the Co-operatives in Farafenni. They have to transport all their goods out by themselves.

28 - None is sold to Senegal. They state patriotic reasons.

- The village sees a negative development, and states that everything is dropping each year.

- The question about major problems triggers a discussion. Some state, that more rainfall would solve all problems. Others object, and argue that more rain will not increase the soil fertility, which they see as the major problem. The solution to the fertility problem would be to provide more manure, and to the erosion problem, would be to plant more trees.

- A positive development is seen in the increasing livestock prices.

- All in all they are pessimistic about the future.

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