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Sub-Regional Cashew Farmers meeting underway

Sep 29, 2010, 1:28 PM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

A two-day Sub-regional Cashew Farmers meeting opened yesterday at the Baobab Holiday Resort in Kololi.

The Sub-regional annual consultative forum, organised by the International Relief and Development (IRD), seeks to review the progress achieved so far as well as the plan of activities for the coming year.

Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the forum also intends to provide IRD and its partners a documented progress report of the project implementation, achievements, challenges and key lessons learnt during the year under review.

Giving an overview of the project, Kebba Jarsey, project manager of CEP, said the duration of the project is three years (2009-2011), targeting 50,000 direct beneficiaries including farmers and processors.

Mr Jarsey, who said the project is funded at a tune of US3million, noted: "The objective of the project is to maximize income from cashew to improve the livelihoods of 50,000 farmers and processors."

He added that one of its activities is to strengthen organisational and entrepreneurial capacities of farmers and farmer organizations.

In her official opening statement, the Country Director of Cashew Enhancement Project, Jo Anne Yeager Sallah, said partners have embraced the project with both arms and "are helping to develop it into a meaningful and forward-thinking initiative for the cashew sector".

She said their hard work and dedication to the message of "Cashew is Business, which has been proven to be effective by the excitement and enthusiasm demonstrated by so many cashew farmers in the targeted areas".

She further stated that Farmer Associations, Lower Niumi Cashew and Fruit Farmers Associations, Kombo Cashew Farmers Association, and National Cashew Farmers Association are at the centre of activities in The Gambia, while AJAC Lukaal and Action Sud in Senegal have been at the forefront of the excellent work being done in Casamance.

She said with the help of partners and the communities themselves, the project has been able to identify highly motivated and committed local cashew facilitators.

The country director also commended the United States Peace Corps in The Gambia for their involvement.

She also acknowledged the impressive work carried out by the IRD team, adding that the two CEP project assistants - Olu Roberts in The Gambia and Moise Bassene in Senegal - have done an "outstanding job" this year.

"They have proven themselves to be dedicated to the job, sensitive to the challenges and committed to the vision of 'Cashew is Business'," she said.

She also said they were grateful to the United States Department of Agriculture, the funding agency of the project, for their invaluable support.