By Femi Peters – The validation workshop on the Study of the Rice value chain report carried out by the National Farmers Platform, The Gambia in partnership with VECO Senegal/ Gambia held on the 22nd November at the conference hall of the NFPG Secretariat.
During the opening speech, the National Coordinator of the NFPG, Mrs. Marie Adams commented on the framework of the intervention for VECO for increased income for Farmers and for Food sufficiency. She said as quoted “it is pertinent we have a rethink to areas we can explore towards food security”. “That was why one of the objects of the project was to increase rice production which is our staple food and other studies such as Banana Value Chain are presently under study” she added. Also present at the occasion where Representatives of various stake holders in this project like the consultant involved in the report from REFT Institute Dakar, Senegal Mr. Baitir Ndoye, VECO representative Mr. Joseph Sannu and Mr. Sulayman Jallow National Research Institute (NARI) and representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Agricultural Business, Farmers Organizations and the Media fraternity.
Also giving speeches were the President of NFPG who expressed his gratitude to the President of The Gambia for his support to Agriculture and Agricultural activities in the Country. He also said their concern in carrying out these studies on the Rice Value chain where based on the challenges farmers faced towards attaining food sufficiency particularly because it is the main staple food in the Gambia. He also noted that the inputs and support of all farmers in this project would go a long way to meeting the goals of the study. The VECO representative also spoke on the partnership with NFPG/NAWFA since 2008, while working on the communications frameworks with NFPG, they had indicated their support for NFPG as they went into partnership with NFPG in the study of the Rice value Chain in a bid to position Farmers towards producing their own Rice for consumption and produce enough to increase their incomes. So he calls on all participants to be involved in the discussion and debate of the report. Finalizing on the speech was the Mr. Sulayman Jallow from NARI, who encouraged the NFPG and gave their supports in making this study possible and told the farmers to see the document as very important and take ownership of the report.
The report gave a detailed analysis of the study which was carried out through August to September, 2010.The report gave an insight to the Purpose of the study, sources of the data and information, a rundown on the Physical and climatic conditions of The Gambia, soil composition, and land suitability classifications. The production trends of Rice in the Central River Region in The Gambia where studied and issues like why non Nerical variety were more cultivated, Gender Dimension of rice production was noted, where they was a clear cut separation in issues like accessibility to land and funds for farming between the women and the men. Women were almost solely responsible for the cultivation of rice handling about 90% of the total cultivation of rice.
Problems associated with organic rice production were related to the non existence of the exclusive production of organic rice and the objectives should not be based on producing bios but limiting the chemical inputs on organic rice. However the constraints in general included but not limited to mechanization, animal draught power, water resources, irrigation, uncertain yields, and access to credits, unreliable weather conditions, unavailable water related technologies, weak capacities related to rice cultivation, post-harvest losses and storage.
Finally major opportunities were noticed in the central river region like the availabilities of land and water, high demand of rice in the Gambia, opening of regional trade for the rice and introduction of new varieties. Recommendations were proposed by the consultants for further deliberations by the participants of the workshop.