Jul 20, 2015, 9:30 AM
The Federation of Gambian Cashew Farmers Association was last week launched as a result of combined consciousness to contribute to nation building through improving livelihoods of cashew farmers as well as promote cashew production as a major contributor to national economy.
The federation is a non profit, non political, membership based Gambia cashew farmers association with the objectives of increase institutional support for effective and better planning, execution, monitoring and evaluation of programs and activities of affiliate members associations.
The association also seeks to enhance the management and leadership capacity of its affiliates to become more responsive to the needs/aspirations of the membership; promote both horizontal and vertical communication and coordination among affiliated member associations, likewise similar institutions within the coverage area of the federation; advocate for better representation of cashew farmers needs, concern and aspirations in national, regional, and international policy dialogue, program planning, execution and evolution.
The launching, held at the Baobaa Holiday Resort, brought together key players in the agricultural sector, stakeholders and farmers representatives from across the country.
Addressing delegates after the election of the new executive, the interim president of the alliance, Lamin B Touray, said the formation of the federation is a result of series of concreted consultations and discussions between all cashew farmer associations in the Gambia.
He said their mission is to be part of an autonomous and independent cashew farmers’ federation with capacity to negotiate the fruits of their labour, be able to auto finance initiatives and master technologies relevant to their professional operations, able to influence market, policies, and regulation that affect them in the next 15 years.
Dilating on the goal of the federation, Touray said it among others seeks to contribute towards improving the living standards of cashew farmers and allied economic operators through self- reliance and partnership collaboration.
He stated that membership is open to any Gambian cashew farmer association whose entire officials and elected leadership are genuinely engaged in Cashew farming as gainful employment/productive activity that accepts the aims and objectives of the federation.
For his part, Mr Saidou jallow, communication expert at the FAO Banjul office said the decision to come together to establish an umbrella organisation of cashew producers association fulfils an important aspiration of the FOA and ministry of agriculture.
“The Government of the Gambia has echoed in a number of fora, the importance of inclusiveness and authentic participation of farmers in improving the performance of the agriculture sector,” he said, adding that the recently concluded national farmers’ conference is a testimony to this.
According to him, cashew crop is increasingly becoming an important cash crop in the Gambia hence giving it producers a renewed hope in the efforts to fight poverty.
“The potential of cashew for the Gambia are enormous as the world production hardly meets a continuously rising and highly priced demand. Cashew production therefore provides a good source of income for our farming communities and reduce their dependence on the limited cash crops which makes them vulnerable to shocks,” Jallow noted.
Also addressing the launch, the Country Director of International Relief development (IRD), a key partner to the cashew farmers, Jo Anne Yeager- Sallah, told the delegates that through the Gambia River Basin cashew value chain enhancement project or CEP, her office has had the opportunity to closely work with Gambian Cashew farmers associations over the past three years.
“Funding from the United States Department of Agriculture, through a food for progress grant, IDR embarked on a program that sought to work directly with cashew growers and supporting farmer- to-farmer learning. In doing so, we have found that there were several different cashew farmer groups at various stages of development and with different level of organisations,” she said.