The Participatory Integrated Watershed Management Project (PIWAMP) recently convened a three-day annual stakeholder consultative forum at the Agricultural Rural Farmer Training Centre in Jenoi, Lower River Region (LRR).
The forum gathered over hundred participants to review the 2012 project activities, constraints and achievements, and to strike a way forward to maximising agricultural productivity.
In his remarks, Lamin D Darboe, the governor of LRR, underscored the importance of the forum, saying that it is geared towards reducing poverty through maximising crop productivity to enhance household food security for the Gambian populace.
He therefore urged participants to identify the shortcomings and to critically deal with them, by coming up with tangible solutions that will avert the problems. Darboe commended PIWAMP but urged them to consider the plight of farmers and ensure that their livelihood is improved.
Momodou Lamin Gassama, PIWAMP project coordinator, gave a run down of the project. PIWAMP, he disclosed, has succeeded the Lowland Agricultural Development Project, which runs from 1997 - 2005 as development strategy of the lowland ecologies aimed at increasing rice production and household food security in the country.
"PIWAMP was then formulated to integrate all major players on the ground for sustainable use of our land resources to overcome poverty and achieve household food security. In making much impact, PIWAMP formulated a sub component called the Sustainable Land Management Project (SLMP) with key objectives of establishing the National and Regional SLMP secretariat that will harmonise and coordinate all land management issues for the first time in this country," Gassamarevealed.
He spoke of wide range of successes his project registered, in the areas of capacity building and construction of foot bridges, dykes, spillways, inter-village road improvement, gully plugs and contour bunds, agro-forestry, livestock watering points, development and production of village and site maps among others.
PIWAMP, according to him, has succeeded in launching SLMP and Global Environment Fund (GEF) initiative and has revived the Country Programme Approach (CPA) and meeting of the IFAD's three projects in the country.
Gassama however pointed out that the environmental monitoring and crop data collection are two activities critical to his project's implementation. The National Environmental Agency and Planning Services Unit, he noted, have respectively successfully implemented this.
PIWAMP project coordiantor commended IFAD and African Development Bank for their strategic support. He also commended the farmers for their commitment and collaboration during the implementation of the project, while urging them to redouble their efforts in ensuring sustainability of the projects. He went on to thank The Gambia government for creating the enabling environment for the implementation of the project in the country.
For his part, Falalo Touray, the deputy director general of Agriculture, spoke at length on the importance of the forum, noting that it avail the stakeholders the opportunity to review the previous activities that have been implemented by the project for the past twelve months, to see the successes and weaknesses and come up with possible solutions to address the short comings.
He thanked and commended the organisers for the initiative, saying that the forum will address the plight of Gambian farmers. He therefore called for concerted efforts from all stakeholders to objectively discuss issues affecting the farmers to better improve the livelihood of the Gambian populace. He challenged the agricultural extension workers to remain committed and ensure that agriculture is well developed and improved to meet the increasing population of the country.