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Submitted by Nour on
I would like to make a distinction between large scale farmer and small farmers in one part and show also the difference between irrigation farming and cultivation under rain. One has first to deal with the way how the land is appropriated? In Mauritania for example for many generation the agriculture was a way of life to peasants living by the valley. Most of them using poor and using rudimentary tools for growing subsistence crops. As soon as the Manantally and Djama dams were built, we assist at an arrival of new large scale farmers who were new to the fields with money and connection with the credit system. Some of them could be traders, failed entrepreneurs in others field or simply civil servants who want to set up a new venture and most of them are the people whose dealing with International financial donors and designing also the law of the land and how to distribute them.(See how the conflict of interest are intermingling here) Besides their often the one who are in the front end of the supply system in terms of equipments and inputs. The mechanization of the sector was already flawed by the overpricing of the equipments that makes it impossible for the farm to be profitable( selling twenty times the price of a machine compare to its international price.) They are the ones who also would often try to cultivate unfit types of crops for the soil in their farms like planting peanuts in a heavy soil. With regard to the payment of their credit they will the first to default on their commitment because they were doing it casually compare to relative default for the small farmers who faced mostly lack of transformation, conservation and transportation for their crops. That is why some after toiling all season to plant and reap their crop are having hard time to sell it to the one who can buy it at market value due to lack of transportation and conservation. You will find farmers dumping their crop or selling it at vile price to the same profiteers who can have means of transportation and take double advantages of the peasant in both ends of the transaction. The new ways of improving this situation should be to let those who are cultivating the soil regroups in association for bargaining power to buy or lease theirs equipments among themselves and have a way to buy in bulk their improved inputs(seeds, fertilizers etc...). The role of the state would be to help in the roads construction and help farmers in selecting their seeds, crops and how to better use their soil. It would be also beneficial for those who have the means to invest in the harvesting equipments. Most of all since peasants from both side of the river are using the same crops and harvesting at the same time a regional cooperation would be needed to create transformation plant with regard to tomatoes, rice for exportation. Unfortunately the new trend that is emerging is foreign investor from far away are dispossessing the farmer of their lands and making them simple laborers of crops destined for exportation when there is not enough substantial food for the indigenous. This should the paramount question that international donor ought to be talking about. I would be tackling next time the irrigation system versus agriculture under rain. Thank you for bringing this topic alive. Nour