By: Kebba AF Touray
The National Assembly (NA) Select Committee on Agriculture, presented its report before Deputies, after the former’s visit to sectors under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture. The presentation of the report was done yesterday June 28th 2018 at the NA building in Banjul, for adoption.
The Chairperson of the Committee and Member for Janjangbureh Momodou Ceesay, said the select committee for agriculture is mandated to consider annual activity reports and financial statements of Agric. Departments, Institutions and projects, for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively.
Ceesay said the aim of the committee is to perform Lawful oversight visits and scrutinize how taxpayers’ monies are spent and to ensure that Government and public agencies and enterprises, are accountable to the Gambian taxpayers, as mandated by the 1997 Constitution; that they have realized fourteen projects under the control of the Agricultural Ministry.
Ceesay cited weak policy frameworks, poor planning and management, inadequate resource allocation to departments, inaccurate data collection by field workers, marketing of farm produce especially groundnut, agricultural mechanization, project coordination, capacity building of NARI staff, procurement procedure and weak linkage between research and extension, as major constraints facing the sector; that the Committee recommends among other things, for the Ministry to speed up the revitalization of farmer cooperatives for the marketing of groundnut and other crops, revisit the remuneration of project coordinators and managers, make the planning unit of the Ministry a Department with staff stationed in the provinces, ensure agricultural mechanization to ensure food security, and seed multiplication programs to be undertaken by NARI and the Department of Agriculture to ensure access to certified seed by farmers, as the way forward.
Members who took turns to express the need for the revitalization of the Ministry and Cooperative Marketing Societies, ensure the provision of implements, fertilizer and seeds to farmers to boost their productivity, call for the effective implementation of agricultural projects, ensure the purchase of farmers’ farm produce, the cooperation of the Ministries of Agriculture and Education, to ensure agricultural literacy, capacitate agricultural staff and for the committee to actively engage the Ministry in the best interest of farmers.
The report was subsequently adopted by members.