The director general of the National Agricultural Research Institute has remarked that NARI is set up with the mandate to improve agriculture production through client oriented adaptive research and improve production of crops, livestock and sustainable natural resource management in production systems.
Ansumana K. Jarjue, speaking during an interview with the Daily Observer, said the Efficacy of Aflasafe Biological Products in Gambia Field programme is part of a pilot project in Africa. “The Gambia joined 12 others countries in Africa that have benefited in the implementation of this new project called Aflasafe initiative. Although without clear cut funding at institutional level, it is expected to last for five years in The Gambia and hosted at NARI,” he added.
Jarjue disclosed that the Aflasafe initiative is a programme designed to protect Gambia’s agricultural products from being contaminated with aflatoxin, saying the project was facilitated by the ECOWAS Agricultural Commission and Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA).
DG Jarjue stated that NARI is working towards contributing to enhancing the quality of crop products through reducing aflatoxin contamination in groundnut and maize in The Gambia by 90%, and also contribute to enhancing groundnut and maize marketing for export trade for the country. “It’s also an objective for the institution to contribute to minimising health risks caused by aflatoxin contamination in The Gambia.”
He further explained that in the first year, results have showed generally that, aflatoxin concentration in groundnut was higher than in maize in untreated fields.
He added that among the key achievements of NARI is the releasing and adoption of important varieties of major crops including rice, maize, millet and sorghum. “These have proven to be scientifically high yielding, early maturing, tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses (pest, diseases, salinity, irony toxicity, etc),” he noted.
He disclosed further that NARI is culturing indigenous species of fish such as tilapia, catfish and others, which has developed technology agriculture bio-products such as rich bran, moringa leaves and palm oil. “NARI in collaboration with Africa Rice Research Centre has developed ASI (Rice) thresher to reduce the post-harvest loss and ensuring the quality of rice paddy after threshing. 10 local artisans have been trained to scale out the knowledge gained to young Gambian entrepreneurs for self development.”
He explained further that in NARI’s efforts to ensure food security in the country, the institute conducted series of tests on quality assurance for imported and exported agricultural products in the areas of aflatoxin and other chemical analysis such as free fatty acid, oil content, moisture content, soluble and insoluble impurities, amongst others.
“NARI developed technologies in the use of indigenous multipurpose shrubs and tree species pruning for livestock feed and soil fertility enhancement. This is under speedy adoption in North Bank Region and application in communities where cereal/legume rotation farming is predominant. There is however, a room for out scaling the technology,” he noted.
Jarjue concluded that despite considerable progress made by NARI since its inception in 1993 and the speedy takeoff by the new management, there is however still a great deal to be done. “For instance NARI has generated several technologies with high potentials but the impact of the technology on farmers’ productivity, livelihood and quality of life has to be consolidated,” he concluded.
by Modou Lamin Jammeh