By Mamadou Edrisa Njie
The Rice Value Chain Transformation Project (RVCTP), one of the flagship projects of the National Development Plan (NDP), continues to mobilize resources to support the agricultural sector, and, as the country’s Minister of Agriculture, Mrs. Amie Fabureh reassured, the government will never relent in its pursuit of attaining rice self-sufficiency in the Gambia.
She was speaking at a ceremony that saw the handing over of farm implements, certified rice seeds, and rehabilitated facilities to respective beneficiaries, on Saturday, 29 January 2022 in Sapu, Central River Region South of The Gambia.
“It is an honor, as the Minister of Agriculture, to witness the handing over ceremony of farm implements, certified rice seeds, and rehabilitated facilities by the RVCTP project, which aims to transform and modernize agriculture for sustained economic growth, food, and nutritional security, reduce poverty and create employment opportunities for women and youths,” the country’s first female Agriculture minister told her audience.
She informed them that the RVCTP is a five-year project under the Ministry of Agriculture, and is being funded by the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) and the Government of The Gambia (GoTG) to the tune of $7.7 million.
The total number of direct beneficiaries of the project, as indicated by the minister, is 15,000 households, out of which 40% are women and youths; and the beneficiaries across the value chain include farmers, processors, seed producers, input dealers, private sector operators, and commercial agents.
Madam Fabureh stated that the development objectives of the project are to improve farm incomes, rural livelihoods, food, and nutrition security and contribute to poverty reduction through increased commercialization of Rice in The Gambia.
She continued: “These project development objectives are expected to be achieved through the provision of Certified Seeds of climate-smart rice varieties and fertilizer to farmers, to increase production and productivity mechanization through the introduction of technologies to minimize the drudgery in production, harvest, and post-harvest of rice as well as to support the commercial private sector rice producers; and establishment of youth service centers to create self-employment opportunities for the youths.”
Meanwhile, at the said event, Minister Fabureh also witnessed the handing over of 11 Mini-combine harvesters; 44 Power tillers; 11 land levelers; 11 Reapers as well as 360 Scare Guns to deter hippos and birds from destroying rice fields. Also, 455 MT of Certified Seeds, an office building, and staff quarters were handed over to their beneficiaries.
According to her, the farm implements were given free to three private sectors rice farmers, namely Maruo Farms, Mira Firms, and Salifu Mballo and Sons, while four Youth Service centers and 11 communities, through the RVCTP established Farmer Field School/ Farmer Business Schools in Central River Region North and Central River Region South and Upper River Region, also benefited from the project largesse.
“To our gallant farmers, the handing over of these items is very much in line with my agriculture sector policy and strategies, which is aimed at not [only] modernizing the sector as enshrined in the NDP, but [also] to transform and commercialized agriculture. No wonder, that’s why we have both the farmers as well as the private sector in our midst [today] as beneficiaries,” Minister Fabureh intimated.
The Officer-in-Charge (O-I-C) of the RVCTP, Mr. Sang Mendy, in his remarks told the gathering that the handing over of the farming equipment was an important component of the project, stating the beneficiaries were trained on how to use the equipment.
He, however, stressed to the gathering that the project has already put in place monitoring mechanisms to ensure that the farm inputs are properly used.
Hear him: “I want to bring it to the attention of the minister and the gathering, that a Contract Agreement will be signed between the project and all the beneficiaries to ensure that the inputs are well taken care of, for it to serve a longer duration.”
Other speakers at the venue included the Director-General of the Department of Agriculture (DoA) Dr. Saikou E. Sanyang, Mr. Foday Jadama, Regional Agricultural Director of CRR South; farmers and youth beneficiaries.
The summary of RVCTP equipment recipients is as follows: Youth Services Centre–20 Power tillers, 6 Mini-Combine Harvesters, 6 Reapers, and 6 Levelers.
The three private sector rice farmers: 3 Power tillers, 3 Mini-combine Harvesters, 3 Reapers, and 3 Levelers, and 11 Power tillers for the selected 11 suitable ecologies in CRR South, CRR North, and Upper River Region (URR).