GIRAV, LRR Regional Agriculture Directorate embark on field visit at Jiffin rice fields
By Sulayman Waan
Lower River Region (LRR) Regional Agriculture Directorate in partnership with the Central Projects Coordinating Unit (CPCU) under the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) through the World Bank-funded Gambia Inclusive and Resilient Agricultural Value Chain Development Project (GIRAV) on Monday visited rice fields of Jiffin village, Jarra West District.
It could be recalled that the GIRAV project provided 1250 bags and 356 bags (each 20kg) of certified rice and maize seeds respectively to LRR farmers through the Department of Agriculture (DoA).
In recent months about 40 Jiffin women rice farmers were provided with 20 bags of certified rice to cultivate on 20 hectares.
Similarly, agricultural stakeholders, local authorities, and over 40 farmers visited the Jiffin village’s 20 hectares of lowland rice fields.
The visit aimed at bringing farmers and extension staff together to interact and share knowledge and new information, technology, and experiences.
According to officials, the GIRAV project directly targets over 50, 000 farmers (40% women and 30% youth) across the project’s five priority value chains namely: rice, maize, vegetables, mango, cashew, and poultry.
Momodou Lamin Darboe, Regional Agriculture Director for LRR, said the purpose of the field day was to assess the excellent performance of the 20 hectares of rice fields owned by 40 farmers who benefitted from the GIRAV project.
“The visit gave farmers the opportunity to network and exchange contact numbers for a common good. The field day also provides an opportunity for farmers, extension staff, local authorities, and technocrats to interact and have enriching dialogue and discussions on how to improve farming in general and rice production in particular for the attainment of national priorities in the agriculture sector leaving no one behind,” he said.
Representing the CPCU/GIRAV Project Coordinator, Amadou Bah, Communication Officer for the GIRAV project/CPCU explained that GIRAV is a five-year World Bank funded project through a grant amounting to US$40 million.
“The objective of the project is to support the development of an inclusive and competitive agriculture value chain, focusing on smallholder farmers and agri-entrepreneurs across all the seven agricultural regions of the country”, he said.
Mr. Bah added: “In April/May this year, the project procured climate-smart seeds worth over D13 million and on 2nd June 2022, The Government of The Gambia and the WB handed over the consignment of high-quality certified seeds to the Director General ofDoA for onward distribution amongst over 12,000 smallholder farmers across the country.”
“The support included 50 metric tons of maize and 200 metric tons of rice worth D4, 028,000 sourced from Senegal whilst the 180 metric tons of rice worth D9million was sourced locally from Maruo Farms,” he explained.
Dr. Saikou E. Sanyang, Director General of DoA stressed the need for concerted actions to boost production and productivity and the income of farmers since they are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood.
He described the procurement of the 180 metric tons of certified rice seeds locally as a huge empowerment for farmers and the country.
Following challenges raised by Jiffin farmers, he assured them that his department would provide the community with a rice milling machine to ease the work of women as well as look into their other challenges for redress in a sustainable way.
Seedy Lamin Bah, Governor for LRR said the GIRAV project is contributing immensely towards the realisation of the quest for the attainment of inclusive national food security and sustainable economic growth.
“With this type of support, importation of rice will soon be a thing of the past,” he said while thanking World Bank and The Gambia Government for the project interventions.
Rohey Jawara, a season rice farmer described the GIRAV project’s seed aid as apt and timely. She said the rice seeds given to them by the GIRAV project are early maturing and high yielding. She added that Jiffin rice farmers are expecting a bumper harvest.
“We expect that each household will feed on their products for a minimum of seven months,” she said.
Jawara lamented that Jiffin rice farmers have been grappling with lack of access to roads, of tractors, sufficient seeds, rice harvesters, threshers, and milling machines while appealing for help.