and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Maruo Farms and Supersonicz on Wednesday 11
December 2019 signed a year pilot project agreement with 200 rice value chain
farmers from Jahally Pacharr rice field at Microfinance training centre in
Brikamaba, Central River Region.
The agreement, targeting 100 hectares will see the said organisations provide the farmers with technical support, advice, capacity building, input support, seeds, fertilizer, ploughing of plots, business and financial training as well as buy their produce after harvest to ensure the sustainability of the project.
Speaking to reporters shortly after the signing of the agreement, Musa Darboe, CEO/Founder Maruo Farms, said he intends to connect farmers to financial institutions knowing that the major problems in the agriculture sector is not only access to finance but also ensure they adhere to best agronomical practices to reduce the labor hours they spend on farms. It is also to ensure they get higher yield than they used to, thus make farming more profitable.
He remarked that The Gambia is a small country and it should not be hard to achieve food self sufficiency with proper land development, right equipment, high yield varieties, right agronomical practices. He projected three seasons per year in five years from now; “we should be able to stop importation of rice.”
He noted that land development is the biggest challenge for agricultural investors at the moment as we lack capacity of engineers to develop the land.
He added that we have to also get modern equipment to be able to mechanize our agriculture.
He highlighted that “if we can mechanize farming, making it less back breaking and more profitable it will be an incentive for youth to involve in,” adding that we should be able to entice youth to venture into farming.
He pointed out that farming has to be less labour intensive, more profitable and efficient to attract youth.
Mr. Darboe revealed that he has plans to collaborate with government to create employment for 30, 000 youth between the ages of 18 and 36 years in the next 6 years.
Momodou Lamin Jobe, Head of Operations at Supersonicz, said the agreement has come at a time when their intervention is needed to support farmers as they are engaged in activities that positively impact particularly rural communities.
Mr. Jobe challenged government to come up with policies that will protect private sector investment when enough rice is produced to discourage people from importing. He said they would also ensure there are taxes levied on imports to ensure our local products are supported and protected.
Ali Jawo of FAO highlighted the importance of the agreement, saying FAO will provide technical assistance, advice, capacity building and input support.
Harouna Gassama, president, Rice Farmers Cooperative Society, Jahally and Parcharr expressed their delight with the agreement, saying it will address their ploughing, fertilizer, seeds, produce marketing and other difficulties they used to face.
He also expressed their readiness to do their best to honour the agreement in ensuring the project is a success.