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National Farmers Platform Coordinator on farmers plight

Jan 29, 2010, 9:27 AM | Article By: Abdourahaman Sallah

Maria Adams the National Coordinator of the National Farmers Platform has said there is limited international market for the sale of The Gambia's agricultural produce, particularly groundnuts.

Mrs. Adams made these remarks on Wednesday, at the Agricultural Rural Farmers Training Centre in Jenoi Lower River Region, at the opening ceremony for the platform's Annual General Meeting.

According to her, the marketing of groundnuts is being affected by the presence of aflotoxin in nuts.

Recently, European Commission donated some equipment for the testing of groundnuts, she said, adding that this is a positive development, and that in the long run there would be external markets open for groundnut trade.

She added the marketing of agricultural produce has really proven to be a problem, as farmers continued to complain at the Seccos (buying centres) about the lack of cash.

She also noted that other factors needed to be considered such as the availability of proper storage facilities.

"Some of the responsibility of the platform is to lobby for farmers in the area of favourable agricultural policies, farming tools, fertilisers, loans with low interest, seeds, land issues, and for increased budgetary allocations to the agricultural sector," she emphasised.

Mrs. Adams further disclosed that the Annual General Meeting was meant to give an account on the activities of the platform, its financial position, achievements, constraints, among others.

Buba Khan, the Right to Food Manager of ActionAid The Gambia, said the National Farmers Platform like other platforms in other countries had its origins in the decisions taken at the CILSS meeting of 1994 at Praia in the Cape Verde Islands. According to him, during this meeting participants' attentions was drawn to the reform measures being undertaken in their respective countries and its impacts on the operations and welfare of the farming community.

"It was in this light with request from National Farmers Platform that ActionAid The Gambia intervened in order to improve and enhance organisational performance in terms of becoming truly representative and responsive to members’ needs and aspirations," he stated.

Mr. Khan further pointed out that ActionAid is here to support the platform in terms of leadership and management through capacity-building, in a bid to empower the platform to live up to expectations.

"We acknowledge and recognise the role of the government in developing the agricultural sector, and we would like to urge them to do more in terms of resource allocations to the sector in order to meet the Maputo Declaration of 10% budget allocation," said Mr. Khan.

Musa Jawneh, the President of the Gambia National Farmers Platform asserted that “the platform is the mouth-piece of farmers that is supposed to advocate and fight for farmers' rights in terms of better pricing for their produce, access to low cost production inputs, information dissemination and campaigning for better policies.”

A cross section of farmers across the country took part in the AGM.