Gambia: WAAPP Poised to Improve Agricultural Production

Following the recent distribution of 108 metric tons of seeds of groundnut, maize and rice, the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programmes (WAAPP), in collaboration with the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) recently concluded a five-day nationwide tour and meeting offarmers, aimed to increase crop production and productivity.

Speaking at a farm in Lower River Region, Lang Kinteh, the principal agricultural officer said the purpose of the tour was to assess the Farmers Innovation Platform for technology adoption, commodities and value chain programmes, set up through WAAPP. In LRR, he disclosed, they have 11 platforms on three major crops; these are rice, groundnut and maize. Kinteh further revealed that following the establishment of a farm for the Platform, there was an invitation for farmer's demonstrationall over the region and that issues of concern were discussed.

Sheikh Tijan Sosseh, WAAPP country project coordinator, disclosed that this project is found in 13 countries in West Africa, with the ultimate objective of increasing and improving agricultural production and productivity through dissemination of technology.

According to him, the nationwide tourandmeeting of farmers in their various farms is part of WAAPP's key activities, as in line with the Innovation Platform. The activity, he said, is all about disseminating recommended practices as far as different crop production and practices are concerned to farmers.

Sosseh stressed the importance of the Platform, which he said involves all stakeholders in the value chain; from seeding up to marketing, brought on a common platform for them to share, and protectthe interest of their farmers. During the tour, farmers also used the opportunity to thank the management of WAAPP, through the project coordinating unit, for providing them with seeds; a major concern for them before. They noted that the provision of the seeds would increase their production.

The famers called on WAAPP officials and the government of The Gambia to help them with fertilizers and inputs such as horse carts, shine hoes, seeders among others, as the main implements needed to increase their agricultural production and productivity. They also assured the WAAPP officials that with enough farming implements, they wouldsurely have a bumper harvest at the end of the farming season.

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