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FAO boosts Agric Ministry

Apr 5, 2012, 2:03 PM | Article By: Yusuf Ceesay

Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations yesterday donated a vehicle, motorbikes and laptop computers to the Ministry of Agriculture at a ceremony held at the FAO country office in Fajara.

The materials presented included a 4x4 Toyota vehicle, 7 motorcycles, 7 laptop computers, 7 printers and a scanner.

The gesture was meant to facilitate the implementation of the FAO-funded project costing US$483,000, a Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) on the promotion and diffusion of household metallic silos for grain seed storage in The Gambia.

Speaking at the handing-over ceremony, Dr Babagana Ahmadu, FAO Representative in the Gambia, said the TCP was formulated in response to a request made by the President of the republic, Yahya Jammeh to the FAO Director General sometime ago.

“The main objective of the project is to promote the use of metallic household and community-sized grain storage silos in order to prevent post-harvest losses due to humidity or pests, and to increase the quantity of available food for local consumption or for sale,” the FAO Country Rep said.

He said the post-harvest loss in The Gambia is around 25 to 30%, which is extremely under the high side.

He noted that they have so far trained 129 artisans in all the six regions including the Kanifing Municipal Council and the Banjul City Council.

According to Dr Babagana, the project will also seek to build capacity of policymakers in the Ministry of Agriculture to promote the dissemination of the necessary know-how to villages throughout the country.

He finally urged the beneficiaries to put into good use the items and hasten the implementation of the process.

Solomon Owens, Minister of Agriculture, commended the President for the realization of the project, saying this was the first project dealing with post-harvest loss. “30% of post-harvest is a significant loss when it comes to food security,” he said.

Hon. Owens further expressed delight at the gesture, saying, that the project is coming up with food security is very much welcome by farmers in the country.“It is important to come up with technology to cut down the loss,” the Agric Minister said.

He urged the staff of the department to make better use of the items given to them, especially in the design and manufacturing process of the silos.

Speaking earlier, Sait Drammeh, Director General at the Department of Agriculture, also gave a brief background of the project, saying it was the brainchild of the president.

According to him, in January 2010 a document was signed between the agriculture ministry and the FAO and since then some artisans where trained countrywide in manufacturing metal silos for grain storage.

He thanked FAO for the support they have been giving to the country’s agriculture sector over time saying “it is another milestone between the Ministry of Agriculture and FAO.”

He said the items would be put into good use, while urging the beneficiaries to reach out to the farmers, especially small-scale farmers.

Also speaking at the ceremony, Abdoulie Loum, Director of Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI), underscored the importance of his institute’s partnership with the FAO, while assuring the world body of sustaining the project.