Bio-fortification project officials meet farmers

Monday, September 25, 2017

‘Baluu Timaringho,’ accompanied by the lead consultant for the Bio-fortification project, Dr. Eva Weltzien Rattunde, recently visited farmers at their project intervention site in the country.

During the visit, Ousman Jammeh, project manager, told farmers that the project was one of the projects under the United Purpose (formerly known as Concern Universal).

He praised the European Union for funding the project at a tune of 2.6 million Euros, adding that their support to the new Gambia in its human rights and development aspirations deserves commendation in all aspects.

Mr Jammeh said the main objective of the Baluu Timaringho project is to address the alarming rate of malnutrition, which is seriously affecting children under five years, as well as lactating and pregnant women in The Gambia.

According to Mr Jammeh, Pearl millet (another type) locally known, as ‘Sunno’ is one of the crops rich in iron and zinc.

A fundamental reason for the project; ‘Baluu Timaringho’ is to promote its production, processing and consumption.

He disclosed that the other two crops that the projects are earmarked for are: the African Leafy vegetables and Orange flesh sweet potato crops.

These two crop groups are also recognised for their rich nutrient contents and would be an important tool in the battle against malnutrition in The Gambia.

The project, according to Mr Jammeh, would introduce some renowned new-leafy vegetable varieties outside the Gambian borders, but would equally promote and support the use of locally available ones, such as the ‘Soora’, Surro, amaranthus, Kerenkeren, moringer, etc.

The lead consultant for the Bio-fortification project, Dr. Eva Weltzien Rattunde, now simply called Hawa Keita, commended their partners, such as the Department of Community Development, Wulli and Sandu Development Agency, Agency for Village Support (AVISU) and Trust Agency for Rural Development (TARUD), for taking part in the varietal screening and training conducted at the Pearl millet Trial sites across the country.

She said the training would expose both farmers and extension workers to data collection and evaluation procedures, which she added, would enable them choose the best millet varieties for the Baluu Timaringho project.

She emphasised the importance of women in the training, noting that they are key in food-processing.

 Madam Eva disclosed to the participants that the evaluation would be in 2 phases: towards harvest and post-harvest evaluations.

While urging farmers to work closely with Agric extension workers and partners from other sectors to enable them meet project objectives, she encouraged them to scrutinise the varieties objectively, based on observed characteristics inherent in them.

She then advised farmers to observe the crops holistically from planting to consumption, adding that their field performance alone is not enough, “but ease of processing, protection and palatability are all important parameters for selection.”

She called for change in attitudes and diet formulation, noting that malnutrition is reducing the performance of children, making them slow learners.

Author: Abdoulie Nyockeh
Source: Picture: Project manager Ousman Jammeh