Gov’t procures over D21M worth of assortment of climate smart seeds
By Sulayman Waan
The Gambia Government through The Gambia Inclusive and Resilient Agricultural Value Chain Development Project (GIRAV) under the Ministry of Agriculture has procured an assortment of climate smart seeds worth over twenty-one million, nine hundred and two thousand dalasi (D21,902,000) equivalent to US$353,258.06 to support food and seed insecure farmers.
The GIRAV is a five-year 40 million US Dollar grant from the World Bank. The project aims to support and promote the development of inclusive, resilient, and competitive market oriented agricultural value chains (rice, maize, horticulture including mango, cashew and poultry) with specific focus on smallholder farmers and agri-businesses.
Component two of the project aims to increase agricultural productivity through climate-smart intensification of selected productive systems focusing on enhancing water management and fostering access to improved technologies and innovations. Within the framework of this component, the assortment of climate smart seeds comprises of 100 metric tons of certified maize (4 varieties) and 150 metric tons of certified rice (7 varieties) has been procured to support more than 12,000 smallholder farmers across the country for the 2023 cropping season.
Two of the rice varieties (named WARR 77 and ISRIZ 10) are salt tolerant and are also suitable for both lowland and irrigated ecologies. Two varieties (named WAB105 and NERICA 8) are suitable for both lowland and upland and one variety (named FARO 44) is suitable for upland and irrigated fields. All the five varieties of maize (named Obatampa, Suwan 2, Early Thai and Kabamanoj F1) are for upland ecology only.
130 MT of certified rice of 4 varieties worth D9,750,000 (US$157,258.06) was locally sourced from Maruo Farms. The remaining stock consisting of 100MT of certified maize seeds of 4 varieties worth D10,315,870 (US$166,385.00) and 20MT of certified rice seeds of 3 varieties worth D1,836,130.00 million (US$29,615.00) which were not available locally were sourced from Senegal.
Commenting on the intervention, Abdoulie Touray, Coordinator of the GIRAV Project and the Central Projects Coordinating Unit under the Ministry of Agriculture said: “The sourcing of seeds locally is a clear demonstration of the project and the Ministry of Agriculture’s commitment to empower our young Gambian entrepreneurs and local seeds growers and thus contribute to sustainble economic growth and national development.”
“The timely provision of these critical production inputs will help the farmers to put an estimated 7,500 hectares and 5,000 hectares under rice and maize production respectively”.
The Ministry of Agriculture is stepping up efforts towards accelerating progress in drive for Agri-Food Systems Transformation. In this regard, GIRAV is supporting the digitalization of the sector’s targeting strategy/approach in the provision of smart subsidy of any agricultural input.
The GIRAV team has trained about 130 Agriculture Extension Workers including the Regional Directors and their assistants on how to digitally register farmers benefiting from the inputs using tablets provided by the project.
Meanwhile, the free distribution of the seeds amongst interested farmers across the country started on Thursday 22nd June 2023. The Department of Agriculture (DoA) which is one of the 18 implementing partners of the project has deployed more than 100 extension workers across the country to digitally register the farmers receiving the seeds. Each is equipped with a tablet and the technical know-how to ensure real-time data collection and reporting to the central CPCU database daily.