By Olimatou Coker
The officials of the the Resilience Of Organization for Transformative Smallholder Agriculture project (ROOTS) on Thursday handed over a support of 19 motorbikes to the Department of Agriculture (DoA) at a ceremony held at the ROOTS office in Abuko.
The gesture is meant to enhance mobility support for the Department of Agriculture for better extension services delivery.
The presentation of the 19 motorbikes to the Department of Agriculture is part of a series of support by the ROOTS Project to the Department of Agriculture for the effective implementation of the Farmer Field school program.
Mamour Alieu Jagne, the Project Director ROOTS, said: “Today we are handing over the last batch of the 65 motorbikes we are providing or have provided to the Department of Agriculture. Today’s handing over is 19 motorbikes which will complement the 46 that have already been handed over”.
He said they sought and receive approval to procure the motorbikes quickly earlier in the lifecycle of the project, so they can be deployed quickly to the fields and put to use and support their joint efforts to improve the productivity.
“They need to be mobile and this is the rationale behind the provision of vehicles and motorcycles.”
He said in addition to the motorbikes, they are supporting their maintenance but also their routine operation by providing fuel support as well as DSA allowances, where relevant when field activities are conducted.
He said they are providing the logistical support that would capacitize extension workers to carry out their field activities in support of the objectives of the project, mainly improving production and productivity along the rice and vegetable value chain. “So for us at ROOTs once we hand over, we believe that the department would now have all the required logistical capacity to render the farmer field schools effective as the production intervention sites.”
PD Jagne said they are very happy with the collaboration between the Department of Agriculture and the ROOts project.
He also reiterated that the collaboration is very strong, both at the national level but also at the regional and field levels. “At the regional level the agricultural director chairs the regional steering committee of the ROOTs project. That means all work programs for the region have to be approved by the regional steering committee chaired by the regional agricultural director. In so doing, they are able to complement and reinforce the capacity of the regional directors to coordinate and oversee interventions in their region. It is important to highlight because ROOTs is a project and after the project, agricultural activities will continue. And that is why the regional director has the oversight function to ensure there’s complementarity but also to minimize duplication. That is why the regional agricultural director hosts the ROOTs regional coordinator and in most regional offices, they sit opposite each other, their offices are opposite to each other or next to each other. That is to reinforce synergy. That is to ensure that whatever ROOTs is doing in the region, the regional directorate is aware but also as the oversight and coordination function that collaboration doesn’t stop at that office leve at the region but it goes down to the field where ROOTs field assistants work closely with village extension workers, district extension supervisors in the planning and implementation of day to day activities.”
Ebou Mendy, Director of Admin at the Department of Agricultural, said the ROOTs project has also provided 46 motorbikes to run the farmer field school. “The approach the Department of Agriculture is taking is to use farmer fields to disseminate information to the farmers. It is gratifying to have this very important relationship. The Department of Agriculture, as you are aware, is facing challenges in terms of mobility of their extension staff.
“The extension farmers ratio is about 1 to 2500; that is really on the high side and really one extension worker to run around to meet the needs of farm farmers up to 2500 is a big challenge. That is why mobility of extension workers cannot be overemphasized and since the signing of the memorandum of understanding with ROOTs, we have enjoyed this support from management and I really want to thank the management most profoundly.”
He thanked the ROOTs project director and his team for the great efforts to support the extension system, while assuring him that the motorcycles will be put into good use.
The support is part of a series of interventions by the project to promote climate smart agriculture to boost production and productivity as well as build the Climate Change resilience of smallholder farmers to enhance food and nutrition security.