By Olimatou Coker
As part of the national efforts towards food self -sufficiency, the Resilience of Organisations for Transformative Smallholder Agriculture project (ROOTS) on Tuesday launched a D25 million rice input support programme ahead of the rainy season at the project office in Abuko.
The project will implement a subsidised input support programme for rice producers across the country. This support will include land preparation (ploughing services), provision of certified seeds as well as fertilizer.
Agriculture minister Demba Sabally said the input support programme is designed to assist rice farmer organisations with the tools not only to improve the yields and productivity, but accumulate the liquidity required to independently underwrite their own production activity in the medium term.
He added that the support programme for this year’s rainy season rice production will cover 1,467 hectares.
“The support includes 62.35 tonnes of certified and high yield seeds, 374.1 tonnes of fertilizer (both Urea and NPK) and ploughing services covering 1,467.5 hectares,” he detailed, while noting that 2,935 rice farmers are expected to benefit from the support, which will indirectly impact on at least 23,000 household members.
He added: “Although the bulk of the intervention is concentrated around the country’s rice breadbasket, CRR, all agricultural regions across the country are receiving support, with the following communities benefiting namely: Jahally and Pacharr in CRR South; Sukuta and Barajally in CRR North: Misira in URR; Toniataba in LRR; Ndemban Jola in WCR; and Jurunku in NBR.”
Mamour Alieu Jagne, ROOTS project director, said the input support programme is based on a partial and declining subsidisation mechanism over three years. “This means in the first year the ROOTS project will offset 80% of the total cost, 50% in second year, and 20% in the third year, by which time the farmer organisationa are expected to accumulate adequate capital to meet the input supply needs of their members, as a result of the expected gains in production and therefore profitability”.
Jagne said the initiative will help in promoting mechanised agriculture to improve food security, nutrition and resilience for smallholder farmers on climate change. He also urged beneficiary farmer organisations to increase their productivity.
Alieu Sowe, the national coordinator of NACOFAG, commended the ROOTs project and the government for coming up with “a brilliant initiative” to support rice production in all the regions of the country using the sustainable rice production scheme approach.
He urged the farmers to make good use of the support.