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AGRICULTURE & DEVELOPMENT: FAO donates farm inputs to needy farmers

Jul 13, 2015, 9:54 AM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

The drive to achieve national food security received a huge boost on Thursday 9 July 2015 with the donation of farm inputs worth US$436,459.97 to needy farmers in the Lower and Central River regions of The Gambia.

The consignment comprising 50 metric tonnes of rice seeds, 57 metric tonnes of maize seeds, 360 metric tonnes of NPK and 275 metric tonnes of Urea fertilizers were handed over to the Ministry of Agriculture by the FAO, at a brief ceremony held at Soma, Lower River Region.

The inputs were provided under the auspices of US$2,474,424 project funded by the Central Emergency Relief Funds (CERF) of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UNOCHA.

The project seeks to restore and reinforce the livelihoods and productive capacities of food insecure families through increased agricultural production.

Speaking at the event, the FAO representative in The Gambia, Perpetua Katepa Kalala, explained that the assistance is meant for some 3,200 farmers of whom 60 per cent are women in the two regions.

The intervention is part of her organization’s support to the government’s quest to achieve national food security.

Dr. Kalala noted that food security and agricultural development is a top priority for the government, and reiterated FAO’s commitment to contributing to the attainment of these development goals.

She expressed optimism that the gesture, if well managed, would lead to improved crop productivity and increased household income in the target beneficiary communities.

She used the forum to commend UNOCHA for funding the initiative.

Dr. Kalala also expressed gratitude to the government for providing the enabling environment for FAO to effectively carry out its work in the country.

The permanent secretary number 2 at the ministry of Agriculture, Sherriffo Bojang, who received the consignment on behalf of government, thanked the FAO and UNOCHA for the benevolent gesture.

Sherriffo Bojang described the FAO as a strong and consistent partner.

He advised the directorate of Agriculture and the agriculture extension workers in the region to ensure the farm inputs reach the targeted beneficiaries immediately.

The Governor of LRR, Salifu Puye, also paid tribute to FAO and UNOCHA for the intervention, describing it as apt and timely.

He said the assistance would boost farmers’ morale, and would also go a long way towards the attainment of the Vision 2016 initiative.

Governor Puye urged district authorities and the directorate of Agriculture to ensure that the inputs are delivered to the targeted beneficiaries.

In his vote of thanks, Alhagie Yaya Jarjusey, chief of Jarra West district, said farmers are hard working but the impacts of recurrent shocks have rendered them seed insecure, and thus undermining their farming activities.

He used the opportunity to appeal for groundnut seeds to be also included in such packages, saying the lack of groundnut seeds is aggravating poverty among vulnerable households.

Sillah Manneh, president of the LRR Chapter of the National Farmers Platform lauded the gesture as timely.

He said some of the beneficiaries would even start sowing their seeds right away.

The Agriculture director for LRR, Ansumana Jarju, chaired the ceremony.