Abdoulai G. Dibba
The National Seed Secretariat (NSS), last Monday June 3rd, held a press briefing to inform the media of preparations by the Secretariat towards the 2019 National Seed Fair at their headquarter in Abuko.
The objective of the seed fair according to Director General Moro Manga, is to organize a pseudo-market where targeted farmers will have easy access to quality seeds and in the right quantities; that it will enable seed producers and farm input dealers to present their products to prospective customers, thereby creating a platform for linkage between seed growers and relevant service providers in the agriculture sector.
The scheduled venues for the seed fair according to DG Manga are Brikamaba and Farafeeni and the scheduled dates are 15th and 17th of June respectively.
DG Manga said the seed fair is funded by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) under the project Agriculture for Economic Growth’s (AEG) seed certification service component; that the seeds for the fair are maize, groundnut, cowpea, rice, pearl millet and findi. DG Manga further told journalists that beneficiaries of the seeds FAO will procure at the fair will be vulnerable farmers identified by the FAO, NDMA and PSU, in their recently conducted survey.
According to DG Manga, the NSS was established in 2017 to coordinate, regulate, administer and carry out all the functions of a seed quality control and certification agency as well as conduct seed development activities for the benefit of the seed industry of the Gambia.
DG Manga asserted that over the years, Government or projects procure seed outside because the country lacked a seed certification agency; that if one looks at those seeds procured from outside, they are not of better quality than the ones produced in the country. But that due to the absence of a seed certification agency, procuring seeds produced in the country will be considered illegitimate expenditure by donors; that Government therefore deems it necessary to establish NSS in conformity with the ECOWAS regional authorities to harmonize seed regulation.
Dilating on the significance of the seed fair, DG Manga said it was conceived by the National Seed Secretariat and Food and Agriculture Organisation and other relevant stakeholders, to leverage farmers access to quality seeds in adequate quantities and other farm inputs such as fertilizer and chemicals in preparation for the 2019 cropping season. “It will also generate synergy and foster strong linkages between seed producers, input dealers, service providers and seed users,” he stated.
For sustainability and the way forward, DG Manga said seed producers should come together and form seed cooperatives where they can organize their own seed fairs with minimal support from donors. “The private sector is urged to take up seed production by establishing seed companies,” DG Manga concludes.
Foroyaa asked DG Moro Manga to provide statistics on the national seed requirement of major crops like groundnut, rice and maize and what is available with local seed producers in order to ascertain the country’s capacity on zero importation of seeds for the future.
In response, DG Manga asserted that the statistic is contained in a national document which was not available to him at the time of the press briefing but promised to make it available to Foroyaa.