National Coordinating Organization for Farmer Association The Gambia (NACOFAG),
recently held a daylong consultation forum on The Gambia National Agriculture
Investment Plan (GNAIP) Second Generation, at the FASDEP office in Cape Point,
The objective amongst others was to advance the role of farmers, youths and civil society organisations on the formulation and implementations of the GNAIP second phase linking the attainment, challenges and recommendations of the first phase towards the way forward going into the second phase.
The forum also availed NACOFAG, government and partners the opportunity to consult on the processes of the second generation Gnaip December 2017.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the coordinator of NACOFAG, Alieu Sowe, said the meeting was vital to avail farmers and stakeholders to discuss on the progress made in the Gnaip project first phase and their expectations in the second phase.
He said although lot of strides were made in the first phase of the Gnaip, there was still lot more to be desired, especially when it has to do with the involvement of the farmers in the hearts of the decision making processes.
Mr Sowe also updated the participants on the process under review for proper implementation by all the relevant stakeholders.
The GNAIP programme, he added, was set on a five-year plan so as to help meet the target desire of farmer organizations in general and farmers in particular.
He called on the farmers to be more vigilant towards achieving the desired goals in the Gnaip project.
The first, he noted, was to address concerns in the formulation of GNAIP second generation and to further explore from the records of the first generations.
Also speaking, the deputy director general of Department of Agriculture, Sariyan Jobarteh, said the Gnaip project was all inclusive and the involvement of women and youths was the key to unlocking the potentials in the agric sector.
He said without the involvement of the youths in agriculture, it was going to be very difficult to make any significant strive in the country’s development efforts towards agriculture.
Youths, he said, including women are the key drivers and that bringing them into the process of formalising Gnaip was a very significant step in a very good direction.
“There is hope in our effort to develop agriculture and I believe together we can achieve our goals,” he stated.
He said every player in the agric-sector in the new dispensation should be committed towards ensuring that the much desired goals in the agric sector were achieved before they leave office.
Mr Jobarteh assured the farmers that their concerns and needs would be listened to at all times to ensure that their concerns are addressed adequately.
Lamin S. Fadera of Gnaip, who spoke on behalf of the young people, said no country could sustain its development without having a sustainable agric sector to ensure food self-sufficiency.
Mr Fadera said it was high-time that the Ministry of Agriculture started recognising Gnaip and all farmer organisations as vital players in the drive to achieving food self-sufficiency.
He demanded that all hands should be on desk to ensure that agriculture is given its due. This, Fadera added, could only be achieved if young people are provided new opportunities for making agriculture more interesting for them.
“It is difficult to engage youth in agriculture because they are not very much interested in continuing in agriculture because they don’t see much prospect in the future of agriculture, they do not see it as an active profession in the long-run,” he opined.
He said one way of addressing that was to train them and give them opportunities to access ICT so that they could engage in value chains.
Alhagie Basse Mboge, the president of the National Farmers Platform urged government to seriously address the issues raised by the farmers and to come up with a solution that would suit the farmer organizations.
Sheriff Sanyang, director of Urban Agricbusiness, said the forum was timely, adding that it was high-time that the young people take the lead in agriculture if the desired goals in the sector would have any chance to be realised in the not too long future.
He called for the full collaboration of all the relevant stakeholders for the successful and mutual benefit of the country.
The president of livestock association, Ebrima Jallow, called on government to redouble their efforts towards empowering farmers.
He said farmers should be given the rightful positions they deserve, especially when it comes to decision making.
Mariama Mass, the president of the national food processors, said the need for government to start listening to the farmers and stop taking decision on their behalf.