Sep 22, 2009, 6:47 AM
This was said by Alhaji Kebba Sabally, councilor of Kuntaur ward, who doubles as a farmer in Kuntaur Wharf Town CRR north, in an interview with this reporter in Janjanbureh Town recently.
Mr Sabally, who was part of a two-day capacity development workshop to enhance farmers’ leadership skills, and on the production of quality and certified seeds techniques.
The workshop was held at forestry bantaba in Janjanbureh Town, Central River Region south, and he commended the National Farmers Platform for the initiative.
The platform, he went on, is doing its best to see that Gambian farmers are at the same level with other farmers across the world, in terms of improved crop yields and productivity, and in their economic empowerment to alleviate poverty and achieve food security in the country.
“Cooperative societies in the past were mostly concentrating on the marketing aspects, and now with the support and intervention of the National Farmers Platform, it has introduced seed cooperative societies across all regions to produce quality and certified seeds, to address the seeds constraints for Gambian farmers,” Mr Sabally said.
According to him, the objective of the two-day training activity concluded was to equip cooperative farmers to produce quality and certified seeds for Gambian farmers, thus cutting down the expenses incurred by the government in importing crop seeds for Gambian farmers every farming season.
The government of The Gambia under the leadership of President Yahya Jammeh has great concern for the welfare of Gambian farmers, and as such has put in place conducive policy frameworks to ensure that agriculture, which is the source offood and livelihood for the Gambian people, is productive, thus alleviating poverty and achieving food security, Sabally continued.
“As a farmer, we welcome the establishment of the National Seed Council, which is responsible for all seeds-related issues in the country, including seeds certification and seed management.”
He commended the National Farmers Platform for their foresight and for the laudable initiative, which he said would go a long way in strengthening the capacities of local farmers, and complement the efforts of the government to improve crop productivity in a bid to achieve food security through the Vision 2016 initiative.
Furthermore, he further stated, the leadership of National Farmers Platform in the person of Alhagie Bassi Mboge, president of the platform, must be commended for the initiatives and support provided to local farmers across the country.
In The Gambia, he went on, National Farmers Platform had been in existence for decades, but with the recent changes in the leadership under Mr Bassi Mboge, a lot had been done within a short period of time.
Mr Sabally spoke about the importance of the training course, adding that it was important for Gambian farmers to engage in the production of quality seeds locally, rather than relying on other countries for seeds for their seasonal farming activities, and that the need for modern-day technologies in order to operate is crucial.
According to him, it would ensure high productivity as compared to the procedures used before, and would also ensure higher incomes for local farmers.
Babucarr Kanteh, an aqua culture farmer in Brikamaba, echoed similar sentiments, while calling on the Gambian farmers’ groups to register with the National Farmers Platform,in order to mobilise such a power based to promote and enhance the welfare of the member farmers in the country. Also, in order tobenefit from meaningful knowledge to improve production and productivity for livelihood improvement and self-reliance.
The training course was quite relevant and timely, as it would go a long way in boosting the living condition of the people, and thereby reducing poverty, added Mr Kanteh.
He assured organizers of the training activity that the knowledge gained from the session would be shared with other youths and women in his community, who did not have the opportunity to attend the training workshop.
Maimuna Barry, a rice farmer from Kuntaur, said the Farmers’ Platform is fully responding to the needs and aspirations of Gambian farmers, as an umbrella body for various farmer organisations, including the rice farmer associations in the country.
Therefore, she continued, it was the responsibility of every farmer and farmer group to work hand in glove with the platform, in ensuring the welfare of farmers always is taken into consideration.
She continued: “The purpose of conducting the training was to equip participants with skills to be able to produce quantities of quality and certified seeds, and thus become self-employed in the farming field.