Hello and warm welcome to yet another edition of your weekly agriculture and development column that focuses on issues affecting famers and related developments in agriculture
In our today’s edition we bring you a very important farmer organization called NACOFAG, and why this organization was established, its targets as a farmer organisation, as well as the role and responsibilities as a farmer organisation in terms of boosting agricultural productivity and in addressing food insecurity and poverty reduction.
This organization comprises 45 memberships actively involved in agricultural activities geared towards boosting agricultural production and productivity in the country.
Speaking in an interview with The Point’s agricultural columnist, the coordinator of the National Coordinating Organization of Farmer Association - The Gambia (NACOFAG), Alieu Sowe, said NACOFAG is a network of farmer organization with national character with the overall objective of making sure all Gambians enjoy availability, adequate quality of food variety at all times, as well as physical and economic access to these foods, so they could contribute to the human, economic and social development of the country.
According to Mr Sowe, NACOFAG was established by farmers to represent their interest at the West African Regional Network of Peasant and Producer Association (ROPPA) which has its headquarters in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
ROPPA, he explained, was founded on 6 July 2000 in Cotonou, Benin, by the following West Africa countries on a common front for the realization of food security: Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Senegal, The Gambia, Mali, Ghana, Niger, Benin, Togo, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Guinea Conakry and Liberia.
He also stated that NACOFAG, on the other hand, is comprised of 21 major Gambia farmer organizations, namely AFET, NAYAFS, NAWFA, Farmers Platform, Cashew Growers Association, Fandema in URR and Maize growers.
He added that in terms of association, fish smokers of Tanji, Livestock Owners Association, REFESA, and National Food Processor, KOMFORA, NEFSA,, Casa-Gambia cross boarder link, IOGT, Artemisia Gambia Association among others which have the aim and objectives as a farmer-based organization, to promote and defend the values of an efficient and sustainable small-holder agriculture, to promote solidarity between farmers associations in the country and the sub-region.
It was also to provide technical, managerial and resources support to farmer association and their members for improved production, processing and marketing of high value crops and livestock, to promote agro-business activities, to establish the basis for an organizational network, to attract financial and technical assistance from multi-lateral donors, charitable and governmental organizations.
It is also out to promote awareness, good governance, effective leadership and empowerment of member associations, to mobilize community resources for members to develop their undertakings, all conducive to the attainment of the above objectives or any of them.
The NACOFAG board is the governance body of the organization which is responsible for policy design and implementation.
The board is usually selected from the member associations during congress except; otherwise NACOFAG is governed by an 11-man committee as the executive board.
The organisation also sets out to help ensure that the society enjoy availability of food of adequate quality, quantity and variety at all time through physical and economic access to foodstuffs for them to contribute to the socio-economic development of The Gambia and the sub-region.
He said NACOFAG has viable structures such as secretariat management and coordination, correspondence and communication, programs and projects, finance and admin, reception, and ancillary offices.
The aim was to support the affairs of the secretariats, he said, adding that NACOFAG had developed staff personal profile, operational and communication manuals as policy documents to guide the activities of the network.
He said NACOFAG could now boost of 45,000 members that are all involved purely in agricultural activities across the country.
This membership is diverse as they are drawn from different sectors on agricultural activities such as fisheries, poverty reduction, as well as regional integration.
The organisation had also put in place strategic facilities and concessions of arable land to farming families to grow food, ensure the implementation of the land law and its corresponding regulations, as well as promote its dissemination and application.
It is in to promote the production, multiplication and dissemination of local seeds, improve varieties, promote crop diversification and animal husbandry, facilitate access to micro-credit for farming and fisheries production, and expand and promote livestock repopulation, cattle, sheep, goats, focusing on family producers.
Horticulture, cereal and grain production, livestock and poultry production, beekeeping, forestry and natural resources, food processing and trading among others, are also conducted by the organisation
NACOFAG is partaking in advocacy and sensitization programmes, capacity support and economic projects for the farming community.