Abdoulai G. Dibba
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO) on Wednesday 11th December 2019, facilitated the signing of a tripartite agreement between rice growers co-operative societies in the Central River Region/South, Maruo Farms, and Supersonicz Micro-finance, to enhance the rice value chain.
The signing came after a two day intensive engagement to review the agreement by both parties.
According to UNFAO’s Ali Jawo, the signing of the contract agreement is to boost rice productivity in the región; that FAO’s role in the agreement is to support and facilitate the smooth operations of the contract agreement as well as to provide technical support and training to farmers on the latest farming techniques.
He noted that the program is a pilot one meant to boost the productivity of farmers as well as address their constraints in ploughing, farm inputs and marketing; that they will start with 200 farmers with a total of 100 hectares of rice field.
For his part, the head of operations at Supersonicz Micro financeMomodou Lamin Jobe, asserted that the role of his institution in this tripartite agreement is to provide fertilizer, seeds, ploughing and support to farmers; that since the time his institution obtained license from the Central Bank of The Gambia, they have been supporting and contributing directly to programs that has improved the livelihood of their customers; that the agreement came at a time when farmers are in need of financial support to boost their productivity.
“As a private sector, we contribute to address the importation of rice in the country and we call on Government to protect the local industry through good policies,” he concludes.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Maruo Farms Ltd. Musa Darboe, said the contract agreement is to bring farmers together and work with them to boost their production. He promised that Maruo Farms Ltd. will buy farmers’ produce, mill it and put it in the market; that access to finance in the Gambia is a big problem for farmers but was quick to add that with this agreement, farmers will not face such a challenge.
“This contract agreement will help farmers plough and have quality seed on time and a ‘ready-made’ market to sell their rice produce,” he concludes.
Speaking after the signing ceremony, the president of the Rice Farmers Co-operative Society of Jahally and Pacharr Haruna Gassama, said they are optimistic that the agreement is in their best interest. He thanked FAO, Supersonicz and Maruo Farms for coming up with the initiative and called on them to replicate the initiative across the country.