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Gambia hosts Taiwan ICDF Africa Agriculture workshop

Apr 11, 2012, 1:56 PM | Article By: Nfamara Jawneh

Agricultural experts and officials from Swaziland, The Gambia and Haiti yesterday began a ten-day workshop on crop production and cultivation, focusing on rice.

The workshop, meant for the African region and Haiti, is organised by the Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) in collaboration with the Taiwan Technical Mission in The Gambia.

About 20 participants from the aforementioned countries are attending the workshop held at the Ocean Bay Hotel in Cape Point, Bakau.

In his welcoming remarks, the Taiwanese ambassador to The Gambia, Samuel Chen, informed the gathering that maintaining food security is a very crucial policy in The Gambia

According to him, rice being the most important staple food for the Gambian people is vital to have enough of it to meet the people’s rice food need.

“Unfortunately, the natural environment of The Gambia does not favour large-scale rice production, therefore, how to use the scientific knowledge and technology to increase the rice production is very urgent,” he said.

He said that during the past three years, Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM) has established close cooperation with the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) in ‘rice seeds sorting system’ and has great progress in improving new seeds.

“At the same time, TTM has helped to cultivate 24,000 hectares of new rice land and will continue this task to reach 32,000 hectares target at the end of this year,” he said.

The Taiwanese chief diplomat further told participants that the TTM will also plan to improve NARI’s capability establishment to face the challenges standing in the future.

Ambassador Chen used the opportunity to reveal that the government of Taiwan will this year provide 3 million dollars to The Gambia to buy 2,300 Mt tonne of rice seeds and to import 1,360 Mt tonne of fertilizer to help the country ride out of the food shortage.

He expressed his country’s resolve in sharing her experience in rice cultivation with allied nations like The Gambia.

He hailed the ICDF for choosing The Gambia to host this important workshop, nothing that it would provide a platform for experience-sharing, knowledge exchange, viewpoint expansion and networking.

For her part, Ada Gaye, permanent secretary 1 at the Ministry of Agriculture, spoke at length on the intervention of Taiwan Agriculture Technical mission in the country.

She recalled that in 2007 President Jammeh emphasised the importance of technical cooperation in agriculture between The Gambia and Taiwan as a means of meeting demand and achieving self-sufficiency in rice production.

“A five-year pilot project for double cropping in rice production was designed to address these issues and was implemented by the Taiwan Technical Mission in collaboration with the technical team of the Ministry of Agriculture concentrating particularly on the CRR area around Sapu,” she said.

The project, she added, has now been well established as a sustainable rice production project thanks to the hard work of the Taiwan Technical team.

For his part, Dr Babou Ousman Jobe, Director General of NARI, said rice is a major staple food of the people of the countries of the African region and Haiti.

“Consumption is also foreseen to increase rapidly because of changes in consumer preference and urbanization.” he said.

He noted that the absence of a critical mass in capacity building for research and extension personnel has been identified as a key limiting factor in the delivery of research and extension goods and services.

 The opening of the 2012 ICDF Africa region and Haiti workshop was graced by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Representative to The Gambia, Dr Babagana Ahmadu and the VSO country director.