Delegates from member associations of the National Farmers Platform, The Gambia, have on Friday elected a new executive committee to steer its affairs for the next four years. This election comes at the end of a two-day national congress held at the Friendship Hostel, Bakau.
The platform, comprising national cashew federation, national rice farmers association, national beekeepers association, national cotton growers association, national pig breeders association,
Group Juboo groundnut farmers association, and national poultry farmers association, used the occasion to take stock of their past years' experiences and challenges, and take steps to strengthen their farmer associations for increased food security in the country.
Mr. Alhagi Basse Mboge, farmer leader from Niamina Dankunku, Central River Region south, has been elected President after his running mate, John Carlos, KMC platform branch, pulled out of the race in the dying minutes. Sima Sonko, former second Vice President of the platform, has been elected first Vice President, while Sanna Darboe was also elected second vice President, respectively unopposed.
Mr Alkali Jatta, Isatou Barry and Baboucarr Kanteh have been elected the third, fourth and fifth Vice Presidents respectively. Ebrima Beyai has been elected Treasurer while Elgali Kijera became Auditor. Mrs. Mai Bojang has been elected a female representative to the executive committee.
In his acceptance speech, Mr. Alhagi Basse Mboge praised the efforts of Gambian farmers for remaining true to their profession despite challenges they face. He reminded them that the mission of the platform is to enhance better livelihoods for the farming community, pledging to live up to the task as president-elect.
Mboge also thanked delegates for their participation in the historical congress, hailing the exercise of democratic and charismatic leadership qualities of his predecessor, Musa Jawneh who voluntarily stepped down after two terms in office. Mboge said the result of this exercise emanated from months of consultation and discussion among various farmer associations across the country at district and regional levels, before coming to national level. He therefore hailed the platform's secretariat for the efforts undertaken to see the congress through.
Madam Sima Sonko, first vice president, told the delegates that they have been brought together by a common need, which is to improve livelihoods of farmers in the country. She told them the outcome of the election process should not divide but instead unite them to the cause of Gambian farmer.
In his vote of thanks, Musa Jawneh, ex-president, said the youthful composition of the new executive represents hope and fresh impetus for the Gambian farmer. He urged them to resolve to address the challenges of governance and communication.
The congress also adopted the 2010/2011 report of the Secretariat. It also adopted to establish a women's wing of the platform in order to create greater roles for women, as well as improve their participation in the decision-making processes.
Speaking on the sidelines of the congress, Sambou Dampha, President for rice growers association, North bank Region, expressed happiness at the way the congress was conducted. He urged farmers to use their trade as a way of attaining peace. Mr. Dampha, who is regarded "a master farmer" called on President Jammeh to consider a quarterly annual consultative meeting with farmers as a way to better tackle food security challenges facing the country.