May 2, 2014, 10:23 AM
Following the recent appeal made by farmers across the country, to the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programmes (WAAPP), for the timely provision of fertilizers to boost their agricultural production and productivity, WAAPP responded positively to the farmers’ call in addressing their major constraints by providing 2,970 bags of fertilizers to its innovation platform farmers across the country.
Speaking at the distribution event, the WAAPP country coordinator, Sheikh Tijan Sosseh, said his office procured and distributed 2,970 bags of fertilizers worth over D3 million, for the WAAPP farmers.
He said the rationale behind the provision of these fertilizers was that it was a call made by the farmers for the early provision of fertilizers for their three commodities: maize, groundnut and rice during the WAAPP official nationwide tour with NARI officials in the field to monitor the innovation platform farms supported by WAAPP.
According to the country coordinator of WAAPP, the recent distribution of fertilizers was in connection with the 108 metric tonnes of seed that WAAPP had already distributed to their innovation platform farmers through the regional agricultural directorates procured by WAAPP.
He also lamented that the fertilizer is meant for those already benefiting from the WAAPP seeds of 108 metric tonnes of the three commodities: maize, groundnut and rice, and those farmers are part of the innovation platform activities that are implemented by officials of the National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARI).
The country coordinator of WAAPP further said the objective of WAAPP is to increase agricultural production and productivity in the country.
He added that in the increasing of agricultural production and productivity, the approach involves is the generation and dissemination of technology.
He said the aim is for farmers to realize the importance of the technology involved and its utilization for the purpose of increasing production and productivity.
The approach for WAAPP is generation and dissemination, he said, adding that for the provision of seeders, shine hoes is not the ultimate objective of the WAAPP. The WAAPP is unlike the GEAPP, which has an inputs component within it.
WAAPP is not part of the Grant Agreement, he noted, saying it is not the priority of WAAPP to provide inputs for farmers.
“I want to be very clear, that is not indicated in the grant agreement between the Government of The Gambia and the World Bank,” he said.
Concerning farmers’ expectations, he said giving them fertilizers is just like coming across with a piece of diamond and picking its where almost 70 per cent of our farmers in 2011 were crying for lack of fertilizers and fortunately for the farmers benefitting from free seeds and fertilizers with no cost.
He said therefore WAAPP coordinator advised the farmers to put sustainable mechanism in place for free seeds and free fertilizers, adding that the government bought the fertilizers at a very high cost at D1,020 per bag.
He then used the opportunity to advise the farmers to properly manage the free seeds and free fertilizers, so that come next year the farmers will not be part of those advocating for begging seeds and fertilizers.
He also called for collective effort for all as stakeholders for the fast-track implementation of the WAAPP.