By Awa B. Bah
The National Coordinating Organisation for Farmers Associations, The Gambia, otherwise known as NACOFAG, on Thursday 10 August 2017, started a two- day consultation forum on the Gambia National Agriculture Investment Plan, GNAIP. The workshop is supported by Hub Rural, a regional NGO supporting civil society movements, in collaboration with the network of Peasant Organizations and Agricultural Producers in West Africa, ROPPA. The aim of the two- day forum is to come up with a final communiqué as to what roles and responsibilities for the farmers and the civil society organizations have to play in the second generation in the Gambia National Agriculture Investment Plan (GNAIP).
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the coordinator of NACOFAG, Alieu Sowe, said there are two phases under the project; that the first is to address concerns in the formulation of second generation GNAIP and explore from the records of the first generations. After the formulation of the document, Mr. Sowe said this will be enacted either by parliament or concerned authorities, in order to raise the awareness level of farmers at the grassroots.
In her opening remarks, the regional agriculture director for West Coast Region, Khaddy Bojang Saidy said agriculture cannot be developed without the development of its stakeholders. Stakeholders she said, play key roles. GNAIP she said is a working tool for the ministry of agriculture. She called for the inclusion and sharing of experience in all processes to be taken.
Haddy Gai Sey, national secretary general of the National Association of Food Processors in her remarks said the role of food processors in the agricultural sector is paramount especially in the value chain. Women, she said, continue to play a key role in the agriculture sector of the Gambia.
Seedy Bensuda, a member of the board of governors and NACOFAG member, said membership participation in the process of advocating and lobbying resources for farmers is key in strengthening them both at the national and regional levels. He urged participants to be focused to ensure that a good and strong communiqué is achieved and agreed upon.
Abile Touray focal person GNAIP highlighted the importance of the forum to look into the successes and challenges registered as it establishes the GNAIP second phase aimed at increasing agricultural production. Touray said the forum will also review the policy of Agriculture as all ECOWAS member countries want to connect countries closer in regional trade forums in agriculture.