Aug 18, 2008, 8:50 AM
The National Agricultural Land and Water Management Development Project (NEMA), in collaboration with the regional agricultural directorates across the country, last Thursday commenced a two-day forum for dialogue on the convergence of capacity building for farmers and the relationship between project and services providers.
The forum, which was well attended by farmers, regional agricultural directorates, project monitoring and evaluation officers, project staff and among others, was organised and held at the Wellingara Model Horticultural Centre by NEMA with funding from IFAD.
According to the NEMA officials, one of the expected outcomes of the forum was to reach agreement on what form of convergence is suitable or applicable to provide effective capacity building to farmers aimed at increasing agricultural productivity and enhancing the engagement of small and medium enterprises in providing the required services within the agricultural value chain.
In her official opening speech on behalf of the governor of West Coast Region, Brikama Area Council deputy vice chairperson Mariama Bah Saine expressed delight at the move taken by NEMA for organizing such a forum for farmers.
According to her, the forum also served as an opportunity for participants to critically examine the achievements registered, constraints faced and the way forward for future programme implementations, within the IFAD framework of cooperation with The Gambia towards agriculture and rural development.
According to her, the project is in direct response to the Government of The Gambia’s formal request to IFAD to lead in the implementation of the Gambia National Agriculture Investment Plan (GNAIP) 2011-2015.
She stated further that NEMA is one of such projects aimed at enhancing food security and poverty reduction in The Gambia.
She then used the opportunity to thank IFAD, the Islamic Development Bank and the Government of The Gambia for such a good project.
In his remarks on the occasion, the NEMA project coordinator, Momodou Gassama, told the participants that was the first time the NEMA project was organizing such a forum geared towards bringing services providers in a forum to discuss the way forward.
He said it was therefore important that the participants recognize the value of the forum, adding that the project had two strategic objectives to achieve its desired goal.
The project seeks to improve agricultural productivity, especially within the rice and vegetable sectors so that the food needs of the country are met.
The second strategy is that the project wishes to establish small enterprises that are engaged within the agricultural value chain, providing the required services in the sector and also creating employment for the rural people.
In his welcome statement, the regional agricultural director for West Coast Region, Ousman Jammeh, described the forum as a step in the direction.
He challenged the participants to participate fully and critically discuss the challenges of the project to come up with recommendations that will benefit the wider beneficiaries.