National Farmers Conference wraps-up
Friday, June 01, 2012
first-ever national farmers’ convergence with key development partners,
government officials and those from the private sector, dubbed ‘National
Farmer’s Conference’ ended Wednesday at the Central River Region (CRR) Island
Town of Janjanbureh, with renewed pledges by government and partners to support
farmers and their associations in order to produce desirable products that will
enhance the country’s prosperity.
by the government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Agriculture with
funding from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the
event attracted cabinet ministers and hundreds of farmers and their association
representatives across the country.
With the theme ‘Pursuing Dialogue for
Efficiency in Farming in The Gambia’ the forum was meant to sensitise the
farmers on the development processes in the country as well as highlight their
bottlenecks in a bid to chart a way forward. It was also designed to determine
the nature and scope of interests, priorities, challenges, needs and the
requirements of the various farmer’s groups and associations and their
expectations from the government and other support sources.
availed the participants the opportunity to reaffirm their individual and
collective commitment to a transparent, accountable and inclusive process of
dialogue between and among stakeholders in the Agriculture and Natural
Resources (ANR) sector.
Addressing the gathering, the FAO country representative, Babagana Ahmadou, extended joyous greetings from the director general of the FAO to all farmers and their associations in the country as well as the government of The Gambia on the occasion of the first ever national farmers conference. He also said he was honoured and privileged to participate in this historic event and more so because FAO provided assistance to the activities that resulted in the farmers’ convergence.
The FAO country rep explained that the approbation stemmed from FAO’s priority in the Africa region, advocacy and support to member governments from direct participation of grassroots institutions at all stages of the development process, as reflected in the organisation’s strategic objective and results for the period 2012-2019. “We are equally pleased at the response of the farmers, operators and association of the sector to participate in the conference and make valuable contribution to moving the sector forward to desirable levels of efficiency and performance,” he said.
minister of Agriculture, Solomon Owens, expressed delight at this first ever
Farmers Conference. He described the agriculture and natural resources sector
asthe largest and the most
sensitive in the country due to its role as a livelihood provider for over 70
percent of the national food requirements.
He added: “Also, as a yearly source of income for farming households and other operators in the economy, the sector has the greatest potential to turn the fortunes of this country around, from net importer to net exporter of food and sustain the achievement of the new era. This is because the sector possess sustainable natural resources (human, land, soil, water, livestock’s, marine, forest and wildlife).”
agriculture minister reminded the gathering that they are all aware that the
prosperity of the sector depends on all of them collectively and not
individually. He said that they should all react at the shortest possible time
in order to deliberate on any issue of urgency that will threaten the sector’s
survival, impede its development or delay its prosperity. Owens
stressed that the government has been consistently providing support to the
sector in every national development framework it has established in the last
10 years including the Poverty Reduction Strategy1 and II.
continued: “Government has also recently established other framework in which
the ANR sector is predominantly positioned and they are in various stages of
implementation. I refer to the successor to the PRSP II in the name of the
Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment, the GNAIP, the ANR sector
Policy, the PIWAMP and the NERICA Rice Production and Promotion just to name a
Government has also in the last fiscal period raised the level of its budgetary allocations to refer to the sector from the traditional 1% to a significant 6% threshold set in the Maputo Declaration for support to Agriculture. Very recently, a total of over D43Million was allocated to the Ministry of Agriculture to secure seeds and another total of D69 million to produce and distribute fertilizers for recovery of farmer’s production in regard to recent emergency situation in food production in the country.
declaring the forum open on behalf of the vice president and minister of
Women’s Affairs, Lamin Jobarteh, the Attorney General and minister of Justice,
explained that the participation of farmersdemonstrates their interest, commitment and willingness to
discuss and find solutions to priority issues that impede the ANR sector from
perfuming as highly and efficiently as desired.
His words: “This government has always pursued two clear over-arching goals for this country’s prosperity, sustainable human development and the highest living standard possible for the people. A number of strategies have been established and are in various stages of finalisation and implementation to achieve these goals, Millennium Development Goals, PRSP I and II and presently the PAGE.”
minister stressed that as a government they have always placed agriculture at
the highest biggest level of agenda of priorities in national development,
adding that this decision was not taken by chance but by the overwhelming
evidence of the role and contribution the sector has been and will be making to
the economy and development of the country. He noted that more recently
government had established the GNAIP -Gambia National AgricultureInvestment Programmeand Plan and action are far advanced to
secure support from various sources, primarily development partners and
government ‘s own resources to implement this framework.
minister explained further that the government has been monitoring the
application of the emphasis on the sector in its priority development agenda
and found mixed results citing that in the past few years the ANR sector had
actually made some gains although there is need for more efforts, in both
production and productivity, especially in staple food commodities and more
“Even rice which is ourmajor commodity in our national food basket has shown an
increase from 56% to 74% although that too is far behind what is actually
needed in the country. Groundnuts are beginning to show some recovery to past
levels but still far behind desired performance,” he stated,
While government is extremely happy with this development, he added, they are equally concerned at the real food security situation in the country and by default the performance of the ANR sector which is the custodian of this great national priority and goal. He outlined that over 80% of the households in the country cannot secure food supplies for 12 months of the year adding that at best their stock lasts for six months on average 2-3 months and that is when the weather isnot misbehaving.
Minister Jobarteh expressed optimism that the government will continue with even greater efforts to support farmers and their associations to produce desirable products that will enhance the efficiency and performance of the ANR sector and ensure the country’s prosperity in general.
Alhaji Lamin Sanneh, the governor of West Coast Region, on behalf of the governor of Central River Region (CRR) welcomed the delegates to CRR. Other speakers included Jainaba Nyang representing Action Aid International The Gambia, and scores of farmers’ representatives.
Author: Sheriff Janko & Lamin SM Jawo