OJ says famers need to adopt best practices to be competitive

By Aji Fatou Faal

The Minister of Agriculture has said that in order for agricultural producers to be competitive and take advantage of new opportunities, they need to adopt best agricultural practices, market demands and strive to increase efficiency, profitability and income.

Omar Jallow made these remarks on Tuesday during the handing over of Farm Management Handbook held at the Agricultural Conference Hall at the Quadrangle Complex in Banjul.
He noted that the knowledge generation and knowledge transfer is paramount to agricultural development, food security and nutrition not only in the Gambia but the world over.

“The agricultural sector is one of the key drivers for economic growth in the Gambia. It employs 70% of the labour force, contributes 26% of the GDP and meets 50% of the Gambia’s food needs. The sector holds great potentials for increased production, productivity and commercialization,” he opined.

In recognition of these potentials, he revealed that the agricultural and natural resources sector is given major attention in all national development blue prints while adding that the Ministry of Agriculture acknowledges FAO’s commitment to work with them and the government of the Gambia to build the capacity of farmers; particularly women, in production, processing and value addition.

According to him, he has the opportunity to append his signature to the foreword of this handbook in recognition of its importance in knowledge transfer and capacity transfer and technically transfer.
Minister Jallow appealed strongly to distribute the books to people who are in the agricultural sector especially the extension service workers so that they can translate this book and transfer the knowledge to the farming communities whom it is written for and they should not allow it to be put in the shelves in the offices to gather dust.

For her part, Dr. Perpetua Katepa Kalala, FAO Country Rep, spoke of the importance of the handbook.
She is the book is an end product of a collaborative activity between the Ministry of Agriculture and FAO from a Technical Cooperation Programme.

She stated that this book, entitled “Farm Management Handbook- A guide to field crops and horticulture production, handling, processing and marketing” is a product of staff of the Ministry of Agriculture.
According to her, the book is a comprehensive guide for producers, research and extension staff as well as students and new investors in the agricultural sector. “The book outlines best practices in plant protection, cereal production, oilseed and pulses production, vegetables and fruit trees production, root and tuber production, soil fertility management, post-harvest technology, and marketing.

“Building the capacity of producers and improving their farm management skills would enable them to effectively respond to present day farming challenges”, she said.
FAO Rep Kalala emphasized that the desire to increase production and productivity as well as income generation capacities requires farmers to become better decision-makers and to be more technically informed.

She reassured FAO’s commitment to assist the government of the Gambia and the Ministry of Agriculture to attain all its development goals and to ensure food and nutrition security as well as food self-sufficiency.

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  1. “The agricultural sector is one of the key drivers for economic growth in the Gambia. It employs 70% of the labour force, contributes 26% of the GDP and meets 50% of the Gambia’s food needs. The sector holds great potentials for increased production, productivity and commercialization,” he opined”.
    Will someone help here in telling the readership and the Gambian public exactly who it is that advises OJ on public pronouncements?
    The narrative shown in the statement above hasn’t changed from 1965 albeit that the number of Gambians directly and actively engaged in farming has dropped to unprecedented levels. All one needs to do to prove the falsehood in OJ’s statement is to conduct a tour of Kiang, Jarra and Nyamina for a quick assessment of what segment of the population now remains actively engaged in agriculture.
    The question is why OJ keeps quoting the same misleading data from when he was a Minister in the PPP government. Clearly, circumstances have changed drastically as a result of the massive rural-urban migration that has reached unprecedented levels. The population in Kiang alone is now a fraction of what is was in the seventies and eighties.
    So I’d urge OJ and his staff at the Ministry of Agriculture to conduct further research into EXISTING documents and data in the effort to come up with tangible data on migration patterns and employment in agriculture. Whatever source that is being quoted by OJ is clearly out of date and doesn’t match more recent data collected by the Mixed Farming and Resource management and GARD projects. Apparently, the Director of Agricultural Projects, who may have taken part in socioeconomic research, doesn’t know where to find the data!
    My advice is for OJ to take the time to read pertinent documents and together with his staff, do their homework in this new administration to appear to be better informed on current trends. That way, OJ and his staff will not be seen to live true to the adage of putting new wine in old bottles.
    OJ and his staff must strive to be seen to be serious with the Gambia’s agricultural vision.

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