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AGRICULTURAL SPECTRUM: CRR intensifies preparations for first national farmer’s conference

May 22, 2012, 1:53 PM

Following the change of date of the first National Farmers Conference to May 29 - 30 2012, the regional organizing committee of the host region, Janjang-Bureh are intensifying preparations ahead of the conference.

The conference is expected to attract over 500 farmers, key players in agriculture, government officials and representatives from the private sector in order to discuss issues, challenges and the way forward for agricultural development in The Gambia in the context of a growing food crisis.

Organized by the government through the Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) sector, the conference is among others aimed at sensitizing farmers on the various policy and programme frameworks covering the sector.

It also seeks to determine the nature and scope of interest, priorities, challenges, needs and requirements of the various farmers’ groups, associations and bodies as well as their expectations from the government and other support sources. The conference will also seek to determine how farmers may be more involved in the development process.

A recent rapid assessment of farmer’s performance within the ANR policy framework revealed a number of issues. Prominent among these are the very low awareness of the policy framework among farmers.

The assessment has also revealed a low level of participatory involvement and inadequate responsibilities and contribution of the farmers and their association in the planning and management of the policy framework.

The National Farmer’s Conference will evolve from an in-depth consultation of farmers, the government and other stakeholders including development partners, business, commercial and private entities, semi-government institutions and individuals.

Speaking to Agricultural Spectrum from his base in Janjang-Bureh, Governor Ganyie Touray of Central River Region, the host region, said: “CRR is the nerve center for all farming activities.”

Mr Touray believes CRR is the best region for farming due to its topography. The area is known for rice cultivation due it swampy areas. The river has split the region into two halves making irrigation possible for dry season farming.

Mr Touray further informed us that each region will select 20 farmer representatives excluding their regional technicians to take part in the conference, with the objectives to address some of issues impeding the progress and welfare of Gambian farmers.

He said: “This forum is purely a farmer forum, all discussions and presentations will be centered on issues that are affecting the welfare of farmers. We hope to come up with suggestions and recommendations which the government and its development partners can used to plan ahead for the advancement of Gambian farmers.”

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) for CRR has invited farmers from all sectors including horticulture, livestock, poultry farmers, fisheries farmers as well as farmer associations. In addition, the TAC has selected 20 people to represent the farmers of CRR in the much anticipated event.

The selected representatives have already met in order to discuss some of the issues affecting their various farming areas and to come up with ideas for solutions which will be presented during the conference in the name of CRR farmers.