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AFET ends seed banking empowerment for farmers

Jan 15, 2014, 9:50 AM | Article By: Ebrima Bah in Mansakonko

The Association of Farmers, Educators and Traders (AFET) and Fandema has ended a twenty-day workshop on leadership and good governance for cooperative members and managers of certified seed growers in the provincial parts of The Gambia.

Funded by West Africa Productivity and Production (WAPP), the workshop wrapped up on 12 January 2014 at the Jenoi Rural Farmers Training Centre.

On 24 December last year, the training opened with a weeklong introductory session for seventeen committee members of the four seed growers’ cooperatives of Pakau Njogu in Upper Niumi, Panchang in Upper Salium, Banni in Niani and Kerewan Nyakoi in Wuli West, who were established in collaboration with NARI and Agribusiness Technical Services to promote farmers’ driven seed banking for the first time in the country.

Dawda Kujabi, secretary general of AFET, said that unlike other projects, the farmers’ seed banking is a pilot project established to stay for the unforeseeable future.

He reported that they have witnessed over the years instances where seed producers are selected with no allegiance to any organised local structure for seed production responsibilities.

In his observation, when those projects phase out, the initiative die immediately or shortly after the project.

With the new AFET approach, he said a total of one hundred and twenty certified seed growers cooperative members have been enrolled into sustainable business of seed production.

The course coordinator, Baba S. Gibba, Principal Agribusiness Officer, said the participants explored the governance process and the legal provisions governing the creation of bylaws for cooperatives in The Gambia.

He described the exercise as supplementary to the earlier introduction course for participants on the importance of cooperatives.

Madou Fayinkeh, president of the Network for Famers and Producers Organisation - The Gambia (NACFAG), expressed the need for cooperatives leaders to bear in mind their role to supply the seed market of agriculture.

He described the training as the beginning, saying the idea should be extended among farmers in all the regions in the future.

The governor of Lower River Region, Salieu Puye, said he acknowledged the importance of seed production in the agricultural industry which he recalls as the first profession man has ever depended on.

According to him, for agriculture to continue to provide good food and income to about 80% of the Gambian population, good seeds must be sustainably provided for farmers.

The idea of cooperatives in the seed production, he said, has the potential to bring about increased food security and poverty reduction and by all means contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).