Lawmakers have yesterday questioned the new Agric Minister, Amie Fabure on issues under the purview of her Ministry namely rice, as well as distribution, accessibility, affordability of fertilizer and seeds.
Alagie Darboe Member for Lower Fulladu West asked her to inform parliamentarians on the status of the Chinese Rice and how soon it will be distributed.
The new Agric Minister, Amie Fabureh, in her response told lawmakers, among other things, that a total of 2700 metric tons of Chinese rice has been received between January and February 2019.
Hon. Darboe further asked Minister Fabureh as to whether the purchase of tractors could be included in the next budget so as to provide timely ploughing for farmers in rice growing areas.
Minister Fabureh answered "it is a good idea and my Ministry will engage the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs for funding support and your intervention will also help in this matter".
She informed the Lawmakers that during her recently concluded familiarization tour, she handed over 6 tractors 4WD, 18 rice trans-planters, 12 rice mini threshers and 6 milling machines to the Boiram, Kundang, Jurunku, Salikenin and Barrajally Suba clusters, through the NEMA Choso project.
In Basse, similar handing over of 17 power tillers, 20 rice threshers, 8 rice trans planters and 4 tractors, to the communities of Mamasutu, Sotuma Samba Koi, Dampha Kunda, Chagally Lang Kaddy and Limbambulu Bambo, through the intervention of Agricultural Value Chain Development Project(AVCDP)".
What plans has your Ministry to provide timely fertilizers and seeds for Gambian farmers before the upcoming rainy season? Asked Salifu Jawo, Member for Jokadu.
Minister Fabureh reiterated that her Ministry has procured 50 metric tons of groundnut seeds for the distribution among vulnerable farmer in all the regions of the country under the K2R Project.
"The K2R has also procured 600 metric tons of fertilizer to support the under privileged farmers and 7,500 metric tons also procured by the National Food Security, Processing and Marketing Corporation and hope to get the supplies before the end of June", Minister Fabureh informs.
She continued: "Food and Agriculture Development( FAO), will import 40 metric tons of cowpea, 525 metric tons of UREA and 254 metric tons of fertilizer of NPK 6 20 10".
She further said that the FAO procured seeds and fertilizers will be distributed among 11,457 households ( 4469 in URR, 2413 In CRRN, 2013 In CRRS, 1403 in LRR and 1159 in NBR). These households, she said, were classified as moderately and severely food insecure by the 2018 pre-harvest assessment from CILLS and Gambia Planning Service Unit (PSU), Red Cross, FAO and WFP under the EU Envelop A.
Halifa Sallah recommended to the Minister to consider seed accessible, timely, affordable and sustainable supply of seeds and fertilizer as a policy and thus asked whether the Agric Minister would consider provision of seed and fertilizer to all groups rather than the vulnerable groups?
Minister Fabureh said this is central for agricultural value chain addition and stated that they are working towards ensuring that farmers have access to seed and fertilizer with reference to the ongoing seed distribution by the Seed Secretariat and district extension workers in meeting the seed needs of the farming communities.
She averred that they will ensure that there is sustainability mechanism, noting that that is the reason the Seed Secretariat is engaging seed growers, adding that that is where they secretariat buy its seeds.
Bakery Njie, Member for Bundunka Kunda asked the Minister to inform the lawmakers whether or not the said seeds and fertilizers have been distributed and if not, when will it be done, adding that the rainy season has already started.
Minister Fabureh responded "the seed distribution has already started by NSS and FAO and I can assure you that the 300 tonnes of fertilizer that is available will soon be distributed to our district levels because we need some procurement processes".
Sulayman Saho, Member for Central Baddibu asked the Minister whether her Ministry has alternative to encourage organic production, through which farmers can develop and support themselves, in the fight against the adverse effects of chemical fertilizer on the soil microorganism. This he said is essential adding that fertilizer is expensive which may bar farmers from getting the needed quantity of fertilizer.
"We are aware that fertilizer is expensive and we are also trying to promote organic farming, because even organic farming leads to healthy foods. So my Ministry is trying to advocate for farmers to go in for organic farming", responded Minister Fabureh.