The training was held at Mansakonko in the Lower River Region under the Forest and Farm Facility project. The President of the National Farmers’ Platform, Alhaji Basse Mboge, said the training activity was made necessary to give women farmers appropriate skills on how to manage forest products, and to preserve and process them into food items. “We are working in collaboration with the government and we also realised that we can make good use of the forest products by training women farmers on how to process honey, baobab, the local ‘dettah’, and others into food items,” he said. “The ANR platform will also empower the women farmers through sensitisation and advocacy in line with the president’s slogan of ‘grow what you eat, and eat what you grow’, so women farmers would utilise the forest products to attain the 2016 agenda, as farmers should not focus on only rice and vegetables.” In his remarks, regional director of Forestry, Ebrima Sawaneh, said the FFF project is supporting and enlightening farmers and community foresters about the importance of forest products, and not only focusing on deforestation. “The women farmers will gain knowledge on how processing forest products, such as ‘kaba’ and ‘dettah’ will add value to their income,” he said. “Food processing will bring development to this country, and will improve our health and help the farmers to market their products internationally.” He also called on the private sector and other government departments to support the forestry department to create more awareness in farmers on processing and producing forest products.
Farmers’ Platform Technical Adviser, Sheriff Sanyang, said the organisation is a platform for farmers to meet and discuss issues relating to farming. “The Farmers’ Platform was set up 10 years ago,” he said. “The FFF project under FAO is supporting farmers and community foresters on how to improve the livelihood of farmers. We are training you here for two days, for you to gain knowledge.” He stated that the restructuring of the Farmers’ Platform was undertaken by the newly-elected board members, who conducted a national sensitisation programme to update farmers about the platform and its work. “The Farmers’ Platform is fully funded and supported by ActionAid International The Gambia and is the umbrella body for various farmer organisations including rice farmer associations. Our new project will target and fully support women farmers,” he said. Women Vegetable Fruit and Food Processing Centre’s Managing Director Bakoto Jobe Mboge, commented: “The National Farmers Platform and FFF project under FAO is supporting women processors and the LHDP, which set up Women Vegetable Food and Fruit Processing Centre. The multi-purpose processing centre, which is well-equipped with processing equipment, is training women on how to process forest products and other food items. The multi-purpose centre is conducting training activities, and has employed about 20 girls who are working with us. We are specialised and have been trained on food processing since 2012, and we are still working on it. The Farmers’ Platform is giving us full support at the processing centre. The Senegalese farmers normally do come to The Gambia to buy the baobab fruit to produce it into soft drinks. The Farmers’ Platform has now trained us on how to process the baobab juice, and we are now selling it at the market.”]]>