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Millions in Livestock Business Rundown by COVID-19

The Covid-19 containment measures put in place by the government in March 2020 are already affecting livelihoods in The Gambia. Several socio-economic activities have ceased. Remittances from abroad may also dwindle.

This has forced many people in the informal sector of the economy to venture into crop and horticultural production to sustain lives and livelihoods. As a result, cattle routes and grazing areas in forest areas risk being cleared for farming.

The border closure prevented seasonal movement of livestock and thus aggravating competition for productive lands amongst  livestock farmers in The Gambia, with an increase in potential and actual serious conflicts over grazing lands and access to water for the livestock.

Sally Jeng one of the biggest livestock dealer operating at Gambia’s national abattoir lost her business due to these COVID-19 phenomenon.

She started her business with three million dalasi, with which she bought her livestock from the neighboring country Senegal.

Her business was growing fast. A lorry full of cattle is sold out within two weeks. But covid 19 pandemic decimated away her source of livelihood as she struggles to sell a few of those same cattle in three to four months thanks to the global pan

The closure of the local weekly markets following restrictions, that served as great avenue for sales commonly called ‘lumo’  posed one of the biggest challenges to her business. Border closure immensely impacted cross border movement as restrictions brought businesses to a halt.

Modou Sowe, the association’s secretary general decried that the closure of the weekly markets drastically affected the livestock farmers. Yet, the weekly markets did not re-open.

He added: “the government needs to know that without the ‘lumos,’ the main market (Abuko) will not be functional as expected.”

So we feared that if the restrictions continued, weekly markets would have died and the public will not have access to meat and other livestock products.

“Based on this, we are appealing to government to consider the plight of the farmers in re-opening of the ‘lumos,’ so that the farmers will be able to sell their livestock and also the dealers will be able to go to the ‘lumos’ and get the livestock to sell,” Sowe said. Unfortunately, the bail out package extended to other sectors did not reach them either.

Mam Sainabou Njie another female livestock dealer at Abuko Abattoir said the government has sidelined them in disbirsing Covid-19 relief fund.

Sainabou like Sally is also staying at home because her business collapsed and has no means of starting all over again.

‘The negative thing is that business got stuck and prices escalate so I can no  longer afford the price because what I bought them for and feeding them is totally different.’

Ebrima Jallow president of livestock association  said proper training on livestock and business management , financial support is what livestock dealers need to improve in the sector.

He said the government of the Gambia should properly  asses the damage caused by COVID-19 and support should be given to them to resuscitate their business because products are very expensive.

This story was produced with support from Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), through its Mobilizing Media in the Fight Against COVID-19 in partnership with Mai-Media.

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