Aug 22, 2008, 7:51 AM
It also enabled stakeholders from various institutions to share information through a question-and-answer session.
The round-table organised by the GCCI also heard presentations on 2016 opportunities and challenges and alternative perspectives to the vision’s achievement. It was held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.
Welcoming participants, GCCI’s manager for business development, Sarata Conateh, said the chamber will continue to play its role in promoting investment, trade and partnership.
She said the Gambia government has created the enabling environment for the private sector.
In his presentation, the special adviser on agriculture to the government, Professor Wale Adekunle, discussed the innovation platforms and opportunities for investment in agriculture, Vision 2016, the context, the needed facilities, tasks, solutions and categories of problems faced by small farmers in Africa.
Professor Adekunle also talked about the significance of non-technological constraints, the innovative partnerships altering the landscape and investment, IP-participation and gainful interaction and levels of engagement and investment.
He spoke of the need for farmers to grow rice with the support of the private sector, which will help to conserve the country’s foreign exchange and increase farmers’ income, create millionaires among farmers and private sector players in The Gambia, as well as to use the foreign exchange to develop the nation.
He added that with 1.8 million people as the Gambian human population, about 220,000 tonnes of rice is needed for consumption, 41,000 tonnes is produced locally, 49,000 upland and 27,000 lowland hectares cultivated and some 14,000 hectares of lowland is to be prepared.
There is the availability of land and water, as well as the political will, he continued.
Professor Adekunle spoke of the need for provision of seeds, fertilizers, herbicides, finance, land preparation infrastructure, bulkers, processors and output marketers, transporters and service delivery agencies, among others.
According to the presentation, solving the complex problem of agricultural development in Africa requires a holistic approach with an all-inclusive focus.
He added that the platform promises sustainable and balanced benefits in a holistic manner. According to him, the platform has also demonstrated superiority over other conventional approaches.
“Vision 2016 is achievable, but requires that we use innovation platforms, harness efforts from all existing projects, increase investment in the agricultural sector; and to engage the private sector including farmers,” he pointed out.
Dr Sidat Yaffa, of the School of Agriculture and Environmental Services at the University of the Gambia, urged the government and the commercial banks to work closely together for the attainment of food self-sufficiency through financing farmers with loans with minimal rate of interests.
He discussed the significance of human resource development through the training in agricultural development on various technologies.
He also called for public sensitization through media channels for the wider spread of information in pursuit of attaining national food self-sufficiency.
According to Dr Yaffa, food self-sufficiency and security mean the availability and affordability of food at all time.
He added that the call for food self-sufficiency should not only be based on rice production, but must include other food sources such as livestock, fruit trees and vegetables, among others.
Dr Yaffa also spoke of the significance of people’s contributions through sharing ideas, and spreading information for attainment of Vision 2016.