Abdoulai G. Dibba
The National Farmers’ Platform in partnership with the National Seeds Secretariat convened a two day convergence of seeds growers throughout the country to form a cooperative and elected their executive members.
After the presentations, the National Seeds Cooperative was formed and the following were elected as Executive Members:-
Ba Saikou Kanteh President, Karafanding Badjie, Vice President, Mustapha Kebbeh Treasurer.
The Convergence kick started on Wednesday at the Rural Development Institute in Mansakonko, Jarra West District Lower River Region of the Gambia.
According to the President of National Farmers’ Platform Alhagi Basse Mboge, the purpose of the convergence is to bring all the farmers who produce seeds in the country together under one umbrella.
He said the convergence is made possible through the funding of the NEMA P2RS Project with the support of the National Seeds Secretariat.
NFP President called on the participants to take the convergence seriously as the presentations are meant to prepare them to be real seeds growers’ cooperative members.
President Mboge recalled that they sell their produce outside the country only for them to be packaged back and sold to them simply because there was no system of certifying their produce as seeds.
“Now that the facilities are with the National Seeds Secretariat, we should make use of it so that the millions of Dalasi that goes outside the country for seeds, could now stay in the country to improve the lives and livelihoods of our farmers” he stated.
He concluded by calling on the leadership of farmers’ Associations to adhere to the rules and regulations of associations and general membership to serve as watchdogs so that accountability and transparency could be the guiding principle of the governance of farmers’ association.
On his part Minke Jawla, representing the Project Director of NEMA indicated that the greatest obstacle in the Agricultural system is that farmers do have grains and not seeds which is one of reasons of the poor harvest in this country.
He noted that NEMA used to give seeds to individuals and groups for seeds multiplication but with the creation of this National Seeds Cooperative, NEMA through the P2RS Project will be willing to collaborate with the National Farmers’ Platform to assist the cooperative so that they produce the seeds that the country need locally.
“The seeds that we produce locally is not only quality assurance, but the issue of timely availability is also guaranteed” Jawla stated.
Mr Jawla told farmers that projects are meant to improve the lives and livelihoods of farmers and if the life of a project ends and the farmers’ lives and livelihoods do not improve, then, the project has failed.
Minke Jawla concluded by calling on farmers to express their views when project mission teams visit them as that is the only way they can know the impact of the projects on the lives and livelihoods of the farmers.
Deputising for the LRR Governor, the Regional Agricultural Director, Demba Sanyang talked at length on the role of quality seeds in Agricultural activities, noting that farmers themselves benefit more than anyone else.
He said the issue of locally produced seeds must not be taken for granted as their experience in this cropping season shows that the seeds procured from the local seeds producers by the National Seeds Secretariat were not only quality seeds, but their availability to the farming communities was timely and the issue of lack availability of seeds does not arise.
He therefore concluded by calling on the seeds producers to take the National Seeds Cooperative they are to form after the convergence seriously as their challenges could easily be overcome through the cooperative.
After the opening session, a presentation was made on the overview of the programme; an introduction on Cooperative development; the seed policy; and review of the constitution.