Sep 16, 2013, 10:03 AM
Representatives of farmer associations from across the country have appealed to the government to lend them support in terms of building and strengthening institutional capacity of their associations in the country.
Speaking at the second national congress held at the Friendship Hotel, on Thursday 29th November 2012, Marie Adams-Njie, national coordinator of the Farmers’ Platform said although government has been giving general support to farmers over the years, farmer associations have not been benefiting from such support.
Considering that projects and grants do phase out, it becomes imperative to lend support to farmer associations in the process for sustainability purposes, Marie said.
“One major problem is the lack of funding to support institutional development for farmer associations,” she said, noting that other challenges also exist.
Speaking on the theme of the congress, “Taking stock, taking steps in strengthening farmer associations for increased food security”, Mrs Njie said the theme is important in the face of the food shortage faced in The Gambia recently, and food crises in other parts of the world.
“The problems facing the National Farmers’ Platform are many, which explains the importance of the congress in taking stock and steps in providing solutions to these problems,” she told delegates.
Mrs Njie said the membership of the platform is diverse, hence an opportunity for members to elect people with the right capacity to drive the agenda of the platform without any bias. She thanked the outgoing president for manifesting strong leadership skills by voluntarily stepping aside after two terms, and giving way to a new executive.
Speaking earlier, Musa Jawneh, outgoing president of the platform, thanked the members for the trust and confidence they had in him to steer the affairs of the platform over the years. He gave the historical background to the platform, and how a CILLS-funded programme supported the establishment of such platforms in member countries as a way of tackling land tenure problems for increased productivity.
In short, he said, the platform should serve as an assembly of farmers, “where we come together and discuss problems affecting us and work out a common solution to improve our livelihood”.
The director-general of Agricultural Services, Musa Houma, said the role of farmers’ associations in ensuring national food security and achieving the Millennium Development Goals cannot be over-emphasized.
Houma urged the delegates to openly and frankly discuss issues during the two-day congress, and to come up with tangible solutions that can be meaningful for them, the country and the population.