22 February 2013

Gambia: National Communication Committee On Agriculture Formed

A national communication committee, which would be responsible for all the communication and visibility activities of the West Africa Agriculture Productivity Program (WAAPP) and hopefully all agricultural projects in the country, has recently been instituted.

The committee which comprises of representatives of various agricultural units also includes major media houses in the country, such as the GRTS, The Point, Foroyaa, Daily Observer and TANGO.

The formation of the committee was spearheaded by the Communication, Extension and Education Services (CEES) of the Department of Agriculture, in accordance with WAAPP protocols.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the meeting held at WAAPP office in Abuko, Mr. Asheme Cole, deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, said communication is one of the most important aspects of development.

"You will all agree with me that knowledge and information are essential for people to respond successfully to the opportunities and challenges of social, economic and technological changes, including those that help to improve agricultural productivity, food security and rural livelihood," he said.

According to him, knowledge whether it's farmers' innovation, latest research findings or pressing policy issues must be effectively shared among people and institutions.

He recalled that some time last year, stakeholders gathered at WAAPP office, to validate a communication strategy for the project. The task of the meeting was to look into the mode of operandi for the implementation of the strategy.

Mr. Cole further informed the meeting that already an action plan has also been developed by CEES, which he said, would be made available to members of the committee for observations and comments.

"You will all agree with me that a lot has been done in this country as far as agriculture is concerned, but due to inadequate visibility, little is been appreciated," Cole added.

According to him, due to high extension worker/farmer ratio (approximately 1:3,000), there is need for effective backstopping of the already overstretched extension services in order to make information available to the farming community for enhanced agricultural productivity.

"Further involvement of the print and electronic media is key to this effect," Cole added, while commending the steering committee members for their willingness to serve in the national committee.

Mr. Musa Dampha, deputy Director of Communication, Extension and Education Services (CEES) of the Department of Agriculture chaired the meeting.

He said the objectives of the committee, among other things, were to promote WAAPP objectives, for enhanced agricultural productivity and to create visibility for all agricultural projects in the country.

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