Officials of the West African Agricultural Productivity Project (WAAPP), together with their implementing partners and other stakeholders, convened a day's meeting to look into its 2013 activities.
The meeting was held at the Paradise Suites Hotel and brought together over 50 participants from stakeholder institutions, to discuss the Programme's 2013 activities with a view to increasing crop production and productivity.
The convergence also served as a forum to strengthen the linkages between research and extension as enshrined in the project activities.
In his remarks, Dr. Babou Jobe, the director general of NARI, said agriculture being the main economic activity of the vast majority of the population makes its growth indispensible to the welfare of the vast majority of the country's poor. He noted that achieving the sector's productivity growth target of 6 percent for the long- term requires significant growth in the total factor productivity in science, technology and innovation.
According to him, science, technology and innovation will be fundamental to increasing agricultural productivity, as their application to agriculture is expected to open the doors to economic and social development and competitiveness.
Dr. Jobe further explained that the new approach to agricultural research and technology transfer is to significantly increase the number of participants and their level of participation, until a more fully integrated National Agricultural Innovation System (NAIS) emerges.
For his part, the WAAPP national coordinator, Sheikh Tijan Sosseh, stated that the initiative is geared towards bringing researchers and extension workers under a single umbrella, in a bid to take a new paradigm, which is the integrated agricultural research for development, where all stakeholders involved in the production cycle who converge on the platform, to discuss and share ideas with the ultimate objective of improving production and productivity.
He revealed that the project is funded by the World Bank and the Spanish government at a tune of 12 million US dollars. This project, he added, is an initiative from ECOWAS to improve agricultural production and productivity in West Africa.
Sosseh indicated that research and development are key in the implementation of these projects; hence the reason the WAAPP officials deemed it fit to call such an important convergence of researchers and extension workers to discuss means of improving agricultural production and productivity.
Musa Humma, the director general of the Department of Agriculture, stated that the forum is geared towards pushing the agricultural sector forward in the best interest of Gambian farmers. He then used the opportunity to challenge researchers, extension workers and all other actors to collaborate effectively in the implementation of the WAAPP for the good of Gambian farmers.
The principal programme officer and head of division-agriculture ECOWAS Commission, Abuja, Ernest Aubee, registered his appreciation for the tremendous progress that the Gambia has made in the implementation of the WAAPP.
He advised the researchers and extension workers to be united in the implementation of the WAAPP for the best interest of their agricultural sector.