The Gambia government’s agricultural roots project will build cold storage facilities for smallholder farmers in the seven administrative regions in a bid to eliminate post-harvest loss and upgrade rice field and gardening production.Farmers and entrepreneurs will also be equipped with the requisite skills in book recording and other agricultural skills developments in the country.
Speaking at the headquarters of National Quality Assurance Authority (NAQAA) in Kanifing. Mr. Nuha Nyagando, the capacity building and knowledge communication officer for the roots project, said the $80 million project seeks to increase agricultural activities and access to markets for enhanced food security, nutrition and resilience of small family farms and farmer organisations in the country.
“We want to ease the burden on women. This is why the project is going to build storage facilities for farmers and entrepreneurs. We have started building the storage facilities,” said Mr. Nyagando.
He emphasized the need to go to the farmers to involve them in the implementation process, which he said is the reason for giving them the storage facilities. He posited that the project is giving skills training in accounting and bookkeeping.
“We are trying to build the culture of ownership,” he added.
According to him, Agriculture creates 70 percent of employment for Gambians and contributes 24% to the Gross Domestic Product of the country, but the country still faces food insecurity worsened by unemployment, malnutrition and climate change.
Meanwhile, Muhammed S. Bah, President of The Gambia Press Union (GPU) asked Gambian journalists to look into the sustainability aspect of the roots multi-million-dollar project.
“If you look at this $80-million-dollars, we can say how many billions of dalasi is in this amount? Which is a huge sum of money. So, it’s important for journalists to understand the project and report accurately,” he told journalists.
The GPU President advised the media not only to report as PR for this project, but also to realistically, look into the sustainability aspect of it. He urged them not be biased, they should be fair and balanced, though they are not there to only look for faults but also look at the positive aspects of it.
“We need to know how these farmers are related to this project. Are they involved in this project? So, I think this step is in the right direction in ensuring that journalists understand the project itself, the aim and vision of the project and how this project can directly impact the lives of smallholder farmers,” he added