By Olimatou Coker
Mustapha Bah, acting regional agriculture director for Central River Region North, has implored beneficiaries of the climate smart maize and rice seeds provided by the GIRAV project to treat the inputs support not just as a government programme but a business opportunity that can improve their lives and livelihoods.
Speaking during a monitoring visit to a one-hectare maize farm at Dingirai village owned by a farmer who benefitted from the GIRAV project seeds programme, the chief agriculture extensionist in CRRN said the project has helped in reducing seeds insecurity in the region. Mr. Bah was accompanied by personnel of the GIRAV project on a nationwide post-seeds distribution monitoring mission. The team is led by Abdoulie Touray, coordinator of the GIRAV project who also doubles as the coordinator of the Central Projects Coordinating Unit under the Ministry of Agriculture.
Bah reported that more than 20.5 metric tons of maize and 27 metric tons of rice have been distributed amongst interested farmers across CRRN. He said: “The GIRAV intervention has indeed been apt and timely. It has massively bridged the maize and rice seeds need gap. If you take maize for example, there has been a very high demand for certified seeds. So, all the seeds stock donated by the project as been distributed. But, farmers are still asking for more maize seeds especially for the hybrid variety which produces up to three cobs per plant. Therefore, the GIRAV seeds programme is indeed a step in the right direction. I think it will definitely contribute to improved food security and reduce poverty in the region here”.
Bah implored the farmers to make good use of the GIRAV project support as well as the services of agriculture extension workers to enable them adopt and practice good practices to increase their productivity .
Commenting on the project’s support to strengthen extension services delivery, he pointed out that the project has done a lot for agriculture advisory services. He said: “GIRAV procured tablets for us, trained us on how to digitally register the beneficiaries. We have also benefitted from a donation of motorbikes, measuring tapes and quire books to facilitate our work.
“Now, thanks to this digitized system in place, we have correct data on every farmer who receive the seeds. This enables us to easily track every farmer. We are optimistic that the seeds beneficiaries will make sure that they cultivate the seeds and follow GAPs to maximise their productivity and income. This is what we are expecting from farmers. We are not telling them to pay for the seeds and for our services. All we are asking them to do is let them please take the advisory services that our extension workers are providing to enable them better their lives and livelihoods.”
Ebrima Sallah, a beneficiary of the GIRAV maize seed at Dingirai Village, expressed gratitude to the government, the GIRAV project and the World Bank for the support. He said: “The project gave me 20kg of maize seeds. This is what I have sown here on this one-hectare farm. The support has enabled me to access high quality seeds which would have cost be D8,000.00. Now, I will be able to buy enough fertilizer from the savings I have made on the cost and apply on the field. The balance would be spent on other pressing household needs”.
Abdoulie Touray used the opportunity to thanked the Department of Agriculture and its decentralized structures for facilitating the seeds distribution process. He reiterated the importance of the digitalization of the activity.
He enjoined the extension workers to continue monitoring the fields and provide advisory services to farmers to enable them to realize bumper harvest. Touray also thanked the farmer for accepting the new technologies being provided by the project as part of government’s efforts aimed at supporting the transformation of agriculture to make our agri-food systems more resilient, productive, and sustainable.