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AGRIBUSINESS SERVICES IN COLLABORATION WITH NSS EMBARKED ON A NATIONWIDE CARAVAN

AGRIBUSINESS SERVICES EMBARKS ON NATIONWIDE CARAVAN

FUNDED BY THE AGRICULTURE FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH PROJECT, FAO

DATE-1-6TH NOVEMBER, 2018

The Agribusiness in collaboration with NSS recently embarked on a six day nationwide caravan across the country. The program funded by the agriculture for economic growth project seeks to sensitize farmers particularly seed growers to establish unified cooperatives as well as informing them of the availability of a market amounting to 2million USD and D100 million. This cooperatives are expected to be registered bodies under the agribusiness services or the Ag. Chambers under the Ministry of Justice, backed by a law and work towards a common objective.

It is evident that the Government of the Gambia annually spends millions to procure seeds from neighboring Senegal and other countries within the sub-region due to the lack of a seed certification agency in the Gambia. This seeds as portrait by our farmers due to late arrival in the country is distributed lately and often received in poor quality. This has a negative impact on our production. Thus in the wake of a national seed secretariat, the Agric sector seeks to empower the local seed growers by procuring seeds within the country from our seed growers.

Meetings were held at the Regional Agricultural Directorates and targets 30-40 seed growers in every region. The team members comprises Dr. Simion Numbene an international consultant working with the FAO for the value chain project, Mariama Fatajo, coordinator of the Agriculture for Economic Growth Project, Mr. Momodou Sowe, Principal Agribusiness Officer, Amadou Jallow Marketing Officer, Mr. Ousainou Sanyang, Senior Marketing Officer and MR. Morro Bah of NSS.

Mr. Momodou Sowe representative of the MoA served as the chairperson for the meetings who introduces the team while giving participant a synopsis of the program guide. This involved addresses by Dr. Simion, Mariama Fatajo, the Regional Directors as the Host, after which farmers are giving the opportunity to highlight some of the challenges faced in seed growing. This is followed by a comprehensive presentation of diverse topics on cooperatives and seed certification by staff of Agribusiness and NSS respectively.

Dr. Simion in his introductory remarks in all the regions highlights the purpose of the caravan which seek to raise awareness among seed growers on the availability of a market worth 2million dollars. He underscored the importance of quality seeds noting that, our economy is based on agriculture and it would be difficult if not impossible to increase production and income without quality seeds. He further stated that, farmers should graduate from subsistence agriculture to agribusiness and commercialize their produce to gain income. Hence to promote that, there is the need for the foundation to be strong which the availability of good seeds. He concluded by thanking all participants on behalf of FAO.

Mariama Fatajo for her part said that every year farmers receive seeds from government which are procured in other countries. Government spend millions of dollars and our local seed growers are not having markets for their own seeds. This is due to the fact that, they are not registered as certified seed growers and do not come together under a unified cooperative to meet the demands of the government. Thus, she clearly spelt out all the procedures involved in accessing the market which is understood by farmers. She further advised interested seed growers to start working in earnest before early next year when the tender would be announced by government.

Mr. Mustapha Drammeh, Regional Director NBR said seeds are very important for agricultural development as well as commercialization. He added that the growing of seeds is gaining momentum in the country and there are good seed growers among our farmers but the lack of a seed certifying agency has been a bottleneck. He therefore expressed delight in the establishment of a seed sector which will cut the cost on government spending so much on seeds outside the country. He finally urged farmers to make best use of the sessions by making it participatory and raising questions or suggestions when the need arises.

The opening addresses by the team were followed by remarks by participants where they are given the opportunity to raise issues on the challenges faced in seed growing before presentations on the different topics were held.

Ba Saikou Kanteh a seed grower from Salikenni said the establishment of seed sector could not come at a better. He noted that a seed cooperative was recently established in Mansakonko LRR in which he was voted in as the president of the association. He further highlighted that not all farmers are seed growers and hence pointed out some challenges they are facing as regards seed growing which include:

Capacity building/training on seed multiplication or growing with regards to the appropriate technologies

Accessing quality seeds and timely distribution of seeds

Access to implements to engage in seed production

Lack of seed stores as well as markets.

Chief Jim Fatma Jobe of Kerr Jarga for his part said he was among the first seed growers in the country supplying other farmers and selling it. Hence with his verse experience he acknowledges the numerous challenges involved which includes identification of the seeds, labelling as well as certifying seeds.

He therefore called on authorities to empower them with implements to grow quality seeds that would also be sold on time to the government.  He recommended for the building of seed stores that would be meant for seeds only. He is optimistic that, the future of the seed sector in the country is bright but only if the aforementioned challenges are addressed.

PRESENTATION OF TOPICS ON COOPERATIVES-AMADOU JALLOW, AGRIBUSINESS SERVICES

Amadou Jallow, marketing Officer Agribusiness presented on the challenges raised by farmers and in his deliberation stated to farmers that his unit is responsible for registering cooperatives and hence the problems seed growers come across is cross cutting. He therefore stressed the need to set up cooperatives and work close with the Agribusiness.

 

He further gave them e.g of how cooperatives should be and the importance of having laws which should be understood by all members. He thus concluded that, cooperatives are important and laid emphasis on registering on time to be able to access the seed fund.

 

Ousman Sanyang, Senior Marketing Officer presented on the topic-What are cooperatives which he clearly defined as a team that has the same vision working towards a common goal to develop their income. He further outlined that cooperatives should be established on democracy, free will of membership and members are liable for change.

He further stated the six principles that govern strong cooperatives which include the following:

Knowledge /training

Information sharing

Unity among members

Community development

Income development

Independent

He stressed the need for farmers to register with the agribusiness adding that they would have the opportunity to be trained frequently and follow ups would be made on their cooperatives.

KUNTAUR CRR/N

Day 2 of the caravan was held in Kuntaur CRR/N where the team was welcomed by the regional director Mr. Foday Jadama.

The same procedure was repeated with introduction of team members to the participants by the Chairperson Mr. Sowe and addresses were given by Dr. Simion, The director Foday Jadama and the Regional Director respectively

The Regional Director Foday welcomed the team and compliment their effort I what he described an important message. He underscored the importance of seed production which is instrumental in agricultural development. Sighting some of the challenges faced by farmers in his region in accessing quality seeds, implements among other issues.

Dr. Simion and Madam Mariama Fatajo spoke on the same issues respectively.

The same presentations held by staff of agribusiness and the national seed secretariat

Seed growers across the board had literary lamented on the same problems of not accessing seeds on time, the quality as well as the storage and marketing.

DAY 3 BASSE URR

The Regional Director Mr. Karamo Minteh for his part re-iterated the sentiments of fellow Directors. He also underscored the importance of establishing a national seed sector and the difficulty the region face in previous years to access quality seeds. He added that seed growers coming together to complement each other’s efforts is crucial. He enjoined on participants to share their challenges with authorities.

The challenges highlighted by different participants in Basse URR include the following

Karamo Touray from Wuli west lamented that they lack established cooperatives and the ones that have been there were not organised.

Another participant said that there major challenges includes training especially practical training on fields, Storage and how to package seeds for long term usage. He called on authorities to empower them as they have the zeal to work. He added, if investment is done in agriculture as well as in the seed production it will avail our farmers the opportunity to market their produce not locally but at within the sub-region.

A male farmer from Tumana whose comments were a bit different from the others alleged that there is no adequate field staff to help them or access their work in the fields. He said that, since they commence their breeding program no follow ups has been done by the NSS. He urged fellow seed producers to set up unified cooperatives.

This was followed by presentations on the aforementioned topics after which general discussions were held on the amount of tons anticipated could be provided by the region if they set up a cooperative.

 

BRIKAMA BA/SAPU MEETING

The representative of the Regional Director Mr. Foday Barrow spoked on behalf of the Director who was not present at the time of the meeting. In his speech he welcomed the initiative and also echoed similar sentiments on the importance of the seed sector and the role played by the caravan to disseminate the information to seed growers. He urged them to disseminate the information.

Mrs.Awa Jange of Boiram speaking on the challenges faced expressed the lack of implements, storage fertilizer as well as market. She urged fellow seed growers to be independent in their endeavors and change the culture of

JENOI LRR

The Director was also in absentee and represented by Mr. Alieu Ceesay who expressed dissatisfaction on the late distribution of seeds among farmers. He added that, knowledge gained from seed trainings should be utilized to differentiate grains from seeds. He enjoined on participants to work hand in glove with authorities to discuss their challenges. He concluded by advising those selected seed growers to work hard in producing quality seeds for improved productivity.

The same routine farmers raised concerns on their challenges the same challenges were highlighted like other regions.

WESTCOAST REGION

Meeting highly attended and hosted in the presence of the regional Mrs. Kaddy Bojang who thanked participants for grazing the occasion. In her speech she dilated on different issues including an important component acknowledging the seed sector of the gambia could be developed if see growers are empowered. Noting that, countries where seeds are procured do not have good soils or better climatic conditions than the Gambia. However, they have the enabling environment backed by good initiatives. She echoed similar sentiments underscoring the importance of the seeds and highlight the same challenges of late distribution as mentioned by her fellow Directors. She further highlighted that growing seeds locally is the only remedy to our challenges noting that, the seeds procured by Nema the previous rainy season were distributed early and used for its purpose. This was due to the fact that it was purchased from local seed growers. She however, lamented on the sustainability of cooperatives that are very difficult to maintain in the Gambia. She urged participants to exchange ideas, listen keenly and make the sessions participatory.

Participant comments

Ebrima Beyai of Foni, Alagie Modou Cham of Fass Foni and Abdoulie Njie all echoed similar challenges as fellow growers in the other regions relating to problems of fertilizer, availability of foundation seeds, storage and market to sell their seeds.

CONCLUSIONS

The main objective of creating awareness amongst seed growers was met. The attendance was impressive and all participants were proactive in the sessions and engaged the team on their challenges while giving assurance that they would team up in forming cooperatives to get the needed amount of tons to meet the demands of government.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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