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Taiwanese Ambassador applauds Gambia Upland Rice Expansion Project

Feb 22, 2011, 12:03 PM | Article By: Nfamara Jawneh

The Taiwanese ambassador to The Gambia, Dr Richard Shih, yesterday praised The Gambia Upland Rice Expansion Project for its achievements.

The Taiwanese diplomat expressed praises for the project at the conference hall of the National Nutrition Agency in Bakau during a review and planning meeting of the project.

According to him, the success of the project came through the joint efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Taiwan Technical Mission.

"The Gambia Upland Rice Expansion Project has made yet another success in its second year. The 2010 project, covering 8,977 hectares, registered a total yield of 13,224 tons of paddy rice with an average yield of 1.7 tons from the harvested 7,768 hectares," he said.

Dr Shih said that despite the severe floods in 2010, the achievement of the project is indeed laudable and should be attributed to the concerted efforts by the Gambia agriculture ministry, local authorities, farmers and the Taiwan Technical Mission.

The Taiwanese ambassador took note of the "great improvement of service" registered in various regions of the country in 2010. "When compared with the 2009 performance, NBR and CRR North increased the extension acreage by about 34% and raised the level of average yield by 83% and 23%," he said.

He added that West Coast Region and Central River Region South increased the extension acreage by 109% and 295% respectively and maintained the level of average yield, whilst LRR maintained the size of extension acreage but raised the average yield by 67%.

Dr Shih used the opportunity to once more express sympathy with those farmers who suffered from the floods, especially in URR. "I am also glad to learn about the achievement registered in two consecutive years of successful operation," he said, adding that the project has been introducing other supporting measures, such as helping rice farmer groups to procure threshers and millers and to improve milling-related facilities to tackle the needs arising from bumper harvest.

He said: "Adopt an integrated plan to further consolidate the rice seed multiplication in CRR to ensure an adequate supply of quality seed to the nation and neighboring areas in the sub-region in the near future. Promote the formation and strengthening of farmer's organizations so as to equip farmers with know-how and skills to conduct farming operation in a more effective manner."

He revealed that The Gambia Upland Rice Expansion Project was initiated by President Yahya Jammeh in 2008 amid global food crisis.

Apart from increasing rice self-sufficiency rate, the project seeks to create rural employment and income. "The project aims to transform rice production from subsistence farming to commercial farming," he noted.

For his part, the deputy minister of agriculture, Khalifa Kambi, commended the Taiwanese government for its support to the project.

He described the project as very important in the country's quest to achieve food self-sufficiency.

Speaking on the successes registered by the Gambia Upland Rice Expansion Project in boosting agricultural productivity, Hon. Kambi said: "Your Excellency, with your experts from Taiwan and mine I am sure we will defeat hunger."

Herman TC Chiu, deputy Taiwanese ambassador, chaired the opening ceremony while Dr Sait Drammeh, director general of Agriculture, moderated the planning and review meeting.