Abdoulai G. Dibba
The Department of Horticultural Services under the Department of Agriculture, with funding from the National Land Development and water Management Project (NEMA), held a National Horticultural Show on the 5th of March 2018, at the Abuko Livestock Show Grounds.
The event was attended by vegetable producers, food processors and field extension workers, staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, project officials and partners from the private and the public sectors. The Objective of the national horticultural show according to the organisers, are:
to strengthen multi-stakeholder partnership and participation in order to promote the horticultural sector development through public/private partnership;
to showcase beneficiary participation in horticulture and vegetable production through the value chain approach;
to motivate farmers in year round quality vegetable production by making horticulture a viable business and
to motivate extension workers to show interest and devotion to the services of vegetable producers.
The event which was chaired by Mr. Lamin Darboe, Deputy Director of Administration AT the Department of Agriculture, was grazed by PS Two of the same Ministry, Adama Ngum, on behalf of the Minister, Omar A Jallow.
In his welcome remarks, the Director General of the Department of Agriculture Sariyang Jobarteh, indicated among other things that the objective of the event was to bring farmers together and showcase their produce and share experiences for knowledge dissemination; that horticulture is a venture that is out to help those who engage in it, to earn a decent income through healthy consumption. He assured participants that his Department will not stop at maximizing production but will continue with the process of the value chain.
“We will establish cold storages to take care of perishable horticultural produce. The Food Technology Services will help farmers in transforming the horticultural produce by adding value in a manner that will not only be conducive and acceptable to consumers, but help farmers earn much money”, he concluded.
Deputizing for the NEMA Project Director, Banki Njie stated that the National Horticultural Show falls under the second component of the NEMA project; that the project has just completed and put under cultivation, 9 fully equipped solarized gardens for four youth and five women groups, with irrigation systems, farm houses, toilet facilities, compost chambers to promote organic farming, provision of agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides, and fencing.
Njie indicated that each of these gardens has an average 200 members and are provided with the much-needed capacity building in group management, entrepreneurship and production techniques, to name but a few. “As we speak, six cold and nineteen dry storage facilities are planned across the regions and designs are completed. We are just waiting for approval from the donors to commence work”, he said. He indicated his belief that this will be a huge boost in addressing the challenges farmers are face with, during post-harvest.
“ We are also providing six fully fitted tractors with all the gadgets and accessories, six combined rice machines for paddy harvesting to six producer groups already organized to be able to manage themselves and help manage these huge investment. We are expecting to do twice as much before the project ends,’’ he concluded.
The PS Two of the Ministry of Agriculture Adama Ngum, on behalf of t Minister Omar A Jallow, asserted that their drive as a Ministry, is to transform horticulture into a profitable economic venture capable of attracting the much needed private sector investment and providing gainful employment not only for the women but young people; that food and nutrition security is in line with the present Government’s priorities and that this transformation calls for fundamental reforms to enable farmers and other actors in the sector to transmit smoothly from subsistence production to market oriented ventures, through adoption and use of modern technologies and business practices.
PS Ngum noted that her Ministry is aware of the challenges faced with the horticulture sub-sector in the country as these have affected production levels; that the Ministry will do their utmost to see to it that such challenges are swiftly addressed.