AGRICULTURE MINISTER INSPECTS MFCs AND HANDOVER SEEDS TO SEED GROWERS IN CRR/S. 6TH MAY 2020
The Minister of Agriculture, Mrs Amie Fabureh has embarked on a trek to inspect Mix farming centers (MFC) that are under construction as promised during the last farm equipment distribution across the the country. Places visited were Pirang MFC (WCR), Jenoi MFC (LRR), Dankunku, (CRR/S), Mankamang Kunda MFC (URR), Kuntaur Fulla Kunda MFC (CRR/N) and Njayen Sanjal MFC (NBR). Honourable Fabureh also during the trek handed over 1.5 Tonnes of foundation seeds to Wellingara Kejaw Yiriwa Seed growers for multiplication and subsequent release to farmers for production in the 2020 rain season. She also visited 30ha NSS rice multiplication site in Sapu, YBK Livestock Centre and Sankule-Kunda rice field (CRR/S).
Among all the MFCs visited, Pirang had the best work. In Jenoi, some cracks were noticed on the back walls of buildings (around the windows), toilet doors were metals instead of the specified wooden and tiles were also found to be of low quality. In Dankunku and Mankamang Kunda MFCs, the corrugate of the newly rehabilitated seed store were riddled with holes. Also, the Water Irrigation Systems being constructed by Touray Kunda Company in Pirang, Jenoi, Dankunku and Makamang Kunda still have so much work to finish while Kuntaur Fulla Kunda and Njayen Sanjal where Pinnacle Construction Company operates, the water irrigation facilities (borehole and 80,000l Tanks) were almost ready. At YBK Livestock center, the Minister also expressed satisfaction about the rehabilitation works of staff accomodation by the Kambeng construction Company under the funding of the Small Ruminant Project. At the Pump Irrigation rice production site in Sankulay-kunda, Minister Fabureh and the team was amazed to meet the chief of the Area, Alh. Momodou lamin Baldeh himself, operating a power tiller in the field. She described the chief as a model worth of emulation in the national crusade for food security.
The Governor of LRR, Madam Rohie john Manjang and the Governor of CRR, Alh. Aba Sanyang in welcoming the Minister thanked her and the team. The duo said getting things done at the right time and in the right way is their concern and would therefore continue to support Minister Fabureh
in every aspect. The LRR Governor said she would together the with the Regional Agricultural Director closely monitor progress made in Jenoi Mix Farming center for a better result. She requested fertilizer on behalf of the people of Madina Sancha noting that they were reliable and had ready cash to buy on spot. She however said she warned them from smuggling fertilizer to Senegal, threatening them of State Intelligent Service (SIS) monitoring and serious consequences for culprits. She further requested cool stores for the preservation of vegetables in the area noting that post harvest losses is affecting food security and women’s economic viability. Governor Sanyang expressed concern over lack of power tillers in CRR Region.
Farmers of the visited MFC villages in general expressed gratitude for once again seeing the centers renovated for habitat and meaningful production. They pledged to give every support to the centers as there are meant for supporting their livelihoods and development in general. They hailed the minister for her relentless support since her time of being a Horticulture Director to the position of a Minister.
Mr.Yankuba Sonko of Pirang expressed gratitude for turning the centre from snake habitat by fencing. He called for the enclosure of the actual residence from the farm. Mr. Ebrima Kasama requested for external tap as a support to the community.
Mrs Mama Fatty, president of the Wellingara Yiriwa seed growers in receiving the seed thanked the Minister and the RVCTP management for the gesture adding that seed production is their work and are ever ready to live to every expectations. She however expressed concern about the late arrival of the seed and the unpredictable climate scenarios which undermines efforts of producing adequate and quality seeds. They also indicated access to fertilizer as their main problem.
Mrs Suntukung Sanneh, a women leader at Maruo farm in Pacharr said their livelihood depends on rice production and would therefore embraced anyone supporting that venture fully. She mentioned the blockage of irrigation canals as their main problem noting that as many as 70 plots were under production with no secured water supply.
Speaking at the Handing over process, The Regional Director, CRR South, Mr. Famara Trawally said the seeds were secured from Abijan, Ivory Coast as part of the Government’s effort to meet Rice self-sufficiency in the country. He said improved seeds were given to Wellingara because of the land and skills they were blessed with. He told the famers that rice, Groundnut and Vegetables were the three identified crop in the National Development Plan (NDP). At Maruo farm in Pacharr, Director Trawally told farmers that his office was fully aware of problems affecting them including water. He said they knew the number and extent of canals needed. Already they were able to reconstruct 7 km length through the help of FAO. Three of which is in Pachar and four in Jahally and many more would follow.
Mrs. Fatou sambou, a gender advocate and Deputy Head of the national Women Farmer Association (NAWFA) hailed the initiative of modernizing the MFCs as she witnessed in other countries.
Mr. Momodou Gassama, Project Director, Nema project responding to the cool store request said plans for providing the facility for vegetable producers under NEMA project had now shifted to the incoming ROOTS Project which was planned to be launched in March 2020 but delayed due to Covid-19 pandemic outbreak. Concerning delay and sometime poor works by some Gambian Contractors, Director Gassama expressed their frustration as project managers and resolve in opening up bids to non Gambians for a better result.
Mr. Lamin KS Fatajo, Project Director for the Rice Value Chain Transformation Project noted that good seed are necessary for production because seeds naturally devaluate over time. He emphasized the role of the National Research Institute (NARI) as researchers and producers of new seeds and the National Seed secretariat (NSS) as the coordination and certification body of quality seeds. Director Fatajo also dilated on the pivotal role played by farmer seed grower Associations as multipliers of foundation seeds for the larger farming population. He reassured farmers’ of his project’s annual support of quality seed for a better and productive production at all time.
Mr. Fatajo, told the Pacharr farmers that the objective of his project is to reduce the level of food importation so as to reduce government’s spending. He said his project brought seeds and the next would be training as each given variety has its own specific requirements.
Mr. abdoulie Touray, Coordinator of the Central Project Coordinating Unit (CPCU) said they knew marketing was ever a farmer constraint and by encouraging and supporting the Maruo Farm Manager, Mr. Musa Darboe and the likes is a step in the right direction. He said the GCAV maintenance Wellingara Milling Machine would be an opportunity for Musa to access milling while the RVCTP takes care of the Karmalo mill.
Mr. Ansuman Jarju, Regional Rice value Chain Development Project (RRVCDP) said the Pacharr field is ever known in the country’s struggle for food self sufficiency. He lamented that 75% of Gambian food is imported from other countries. He encourage producers to plant at the right time using quality seed, promising that more support would reach them soon. He added that production by space is important but productivity per unit area is more important
Dr. Saikou E Sanyang, Director General, Department of Agriculture said many plans were laid including the present Rice Value Chain Project. The objective he posited is to improve the production of the NDP targets; G/nut, rice and vegetables to enhance food security in the country. He thanked Musa for supporting farmers. Dr. Sanyang emphasized the need to encourage the Gambian private sector as in many other countries adding that Agriculture is a key factor in ensuring food, health and income to reduce poverty. He acknowledged the good works of the Regional Director and the team by serving the farmers. He said 80% of the food globally is produced by women. He finally urged farmers to take extension advice noting that new technologies brought to them is often tested somewhere to prove its validity.
Speaking at various MFCs during the inspection, Hon. Fabureh expressed satisfaction about progress made by the Contractors describing it as generally good. However, her office she said upon return to Banjul would summon a meeting with the contractors concern so that problems observed during the inspection could be quickly addressed.
She emphasized the important of her visits stating that it enables her to have first hand information on issues in additions to reports written by staff.
She expressed concerns over delay in the water contracts noting that handing over of the MFCs by the end of May 2020 would be impossible if correct water supply is not available for production. She therefore urged the Contractors concern to try to do things on time as mentioned in the contract document. She added that with political will assured, she is certain there would be solution to fix problems identified. The honourable Minister futher stated that the reconstruction of the entire 27 MFCs would be ongoing. So far, 6 were completed, 6 are under construction and 6 more were identified including Kiang Karantaba. She added that these centers would serve as a model for farming, source of information with all aspects of farm production including field crop, livestock and research. She said revitalization of these centers would include equipping them with the necessary machineries like the seeders, tools and fertilizer among others.
At the handing over ceremony of rice seeds to Wellingara Seed Growers association in Sapo Agricultural Station, Minister Fabureh hailed the management of the RVCTP for providing quality seeds for multiplication by the Association and subsequent release to other farmers. She told the farmers that it is the Government’s wish to provide food self sufficiency in the country which quality seeds are a foundation. She reiterated her ministry’s commitment to the farming community. She informed them that there was some fertilizer in the country that would be distributed soon to support their production. About climate concerns, Hon. Minister said the National Seed Secretariat would be available to seed producers for Technical Advice. Her office would further ensure that seed, fertilizer and other inputs reach the farmers on time.