The ambassador of the Republic of China on Taiwan to The Gambia Tuesday visited Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM) intervention sites in the Central River Region (CRR) that are being funded through the Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF).
His Excellency Samuel Chen, accompanied by Alieu K. Jammeh, minister of Youth and Sports; Mass Axi Gaye, newly appointed minister of Fisheries and Water Resources; Alfu Marong, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture; Musa Mbye, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Youth and Sports; and John Liang, consular officer at the Taiwanese Embassy, visited a 45-hectare rice field of the Wellingara Rice Production Association in Jahally, Madina Umfally Agricultural Materials and Operation Centre, a 10-hectare Rice Seed Production Demonstration Farm in Sapu, and an Information Technology Training Centre (ITTC) in Sapu.
The ambassador and entourage also attended the closing ceremony of a three-week learning programme of aquaculture practice consisting of various practical field skills and knowledge including pond maintenance, fingerling production, fish grow-out, feed manufacturing, and data collection for 23 NYSS members drawn from CRR.
Wellingara rice farm
At the Wellingara Rice Production Association field, Maurice Chiu, technician in-charge of rice programme for Jahally area, informed the ambassador and delegation that the rice field is 45 hectares and is being supported by the TTM. He also disclosed that the Association has 65 members with five executive members.
Habibi Touray, acting director of Agriculture in CRR, said the Association aims among other things to develop and promote seed production association, noting that farmers need quality seed for quality harvest. He told the ambassador that the Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), and TTM are working closely to build the capacity of the farmers. He finally informed the delegation that the Wellingara Rice Production Association has over D200, 000 in its account.
At the Madina Umfally Agricultural Materials and Operation Centre project, where construction work has commenced, Maurice Chiu of TTM informed the ambassador that the centre when completed would enable farmers access farm inputs that are difficult to get in the market.
Alfu Marong, the PS at the Ministry of Agriculture, described Taiwan as a true friend of The Gambia, and assured that the government of The Gambia and its people will continue to cherish that cooperation. He also said that Taiwan has been very supportive to The Gambia, particularly in the rice sector, since 1966. This, he said, will go a long way in the attainment of food self-sufficiency as envisaged by the Gambian leader.
Muhammed Sillah, alkalo of the village, thanked members of the Taiwanese Technical Mission for their love for The Gambia, particularly CRR.
Rice Seed Production Demonstration Farm
At the 10-hectare Rice Seed Production Demonstration Farm in Sapu, which is also sponsored by Taiwan in collaboration with NARI, Modou Sabally, research assistant at NARI, informed the delegation that they have 15 different rice varieties at the farm. According to him, there are 8.5 hectares of tidal irrigation and 1.5 hectare of pump irrigation.
Gung Chao Sung, a rice specialist, explained that the demonstration farm is meant to meet the demands of farmers in the future and by extension to determine which variety is suitable for farmer consumption and cultivation. According to him, the farm could meet more than 30, 000 hectares demand of rice seed.
For his part, Ambassador Chen said all the projects are part of Taiwan's commitment to support Gambia in achieving its development target, noting that the two countries are good friends.
Visit to ITTC
Welcoming the ambassador and entourage to the Information Technology Training Centre (ITTC) in Sapu, David Susandi, a lecturer at the centre, said the Taiwanese Embassy collaborated with VSO and NARI to establish the centre. He said the project seeks to increase access to information technology and build the use capacity of the agricultural extension workers by setting up an Agricultural Information Training Centre.
He further stated that the centre is furnished with state-of-the-art information technology facilities and will provide them with training relevant to their job. He added that it is also envisaged that the centre will in the long run provide similar training to the rural farmers. He also told the delegation that the centre has been on for about five months, with the first batch of 63 students consisting of staff from NARI, DOA and NYSS.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of a three-week learning programme of aquaculture practice consisting of various practical field skills and knowledge including pond maintenance, fingerling production, fish grow-out, feed manufacturing, and data collection for 23 NYSS members drawn from CRR, Ambassador Samuel Chen said the training was organised by TTM in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Agriculture, and Ministry of Fisheries and Water Resources.
He thanked the aforementioned ministries for the partnership, acknowledging that without their collaboration, the training would not have been possible. He also described the training as very timely and important.
Ambassador Chen went on to remind the young people that they are the hope of the nation, and should therefore endeavour to partake in national development. He stressed that cooperation is key to any development, while once again thanking all those that have partnered in organising the training. He expressed hope that similar trainings will be organised in future.
For his part, Alieu K. Jammeh, minister of Youth and Sports, expressed thanks to the Taiwanese government through Ambassador Chen, noting that the training is done on a sector which is very productive of the economy and close to the heart of the Gambian leader. He also urged the youths to take over the sector, which, according to him, is dominated by foreigners.
"Taiwan is a high value good friend of The Gambia and Gambia will reciprocate Taiwan's support," he stated, while assuring on behalf of the participants that the knowledge will be put to good use, as they will follow the progress of the participants. He finally urged the youth of the country to maximise the opportunities created by government for their own betterment and that of the country.
Also addressing the gathering, Minister Mass Axi Gaye expressed delight at the training, while assuring of his support at all times. He also urged the participants to make best use of the knowledge gained. He finally thanked Taiwan for her unflinching support and cooperation with the Gambia government.