By: Aja Musu Bah-Daffeh
The National Coordinating Organization for Farmers’ Association The Gambia (NACOFAG) on Saturday, 20 November, 2021 officially launched their caravan on global convergence struggle on land, water and seeds.
The delegates from 9 African countries converged at the Governor’s office in Brikama together with traditional chiefs, representatives from the ministry of agriculture, the media, the scout and the Fula cultural group brought by the Chief of Nianija.
The objective of the caravan 2021 is to contribute to the strengthening of grassroots communities to engage decision-makers to improve policies and legislation with the involvement of traditional leaders for inclusive, progressive, fair and equitable governance both at national and regional levels on land, water and seeds.
The West African countries delegates were from Togo, Benin, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
Speaking at the event, the president of NACOFAG, Musa F. Sowe, said it is the first time for The Gambia to host the west African caravan, adding that 14 African countries are part of the caravan and those involved are young people who wants to take the mantle of leadership to a greater level.
He asserted that the caravan officially commenced in the Gambia with 25 farmer participants, then to Senegal Casamance Region, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Conakary, and finally to Sierra Leone. The caravan will end on 10 December, 2021. Sowe said their aim also is to advocate availability of adequate water, land and seeds for farmers, and also help women farmers to have access and own farm lands.
Talking on the importance of water, Mr. Sowe said farming cannot be made possible without the availability of water for farmers, hence, it is part of the fundamental livelihood of people.
“Africans should be able to produce what they eat and not depend on foreign countries for food hence, we need food to survive,” Sowe elaborated.
He stressed that corporate powers should not take advantage of local farmers but instead nurture indigenous agricultural practitioners because they need an inclusive involvement of women and youths in agriculture.
President Sowe called for social and economic viable socialization among Africans despite political and cultural differences, saying they will firmly stand as one to ensure there is peaceful cohesion existing amongst them.
The Chief of Nianija and also the Leader of traditional chiefs for NACOFAG, Dawda Yorke, stated that since their second convergence in 2019, it gave them the opportunity to address matters affecting farmers in the area of land, water and seeds. He said that NACOFAG and his people have tirelessly worked to help women farmers including 105 women in his district, to acquire their own land for cultivation.
However, Chief Yorke urged all stakeholders to wear one glove to ensure that there is sustainable development, and equally called on all traditional leaders to address matters that are deterring farmers from achieving good farming products and produce.
Hon. Lamin Sanneh, the Governor of West Coast Region (WCR), acknowledged the efforts of NACOFAG and the stakeholders involved for creating such a pivotal initiative in helping local farmers.
Sanneh added that the ceremony marks the global convergence and that the struggle will continue to ensure that issues affecting farmers on the areas of land, water and seeds are tackled, hence, farmers have rights to the aforementioned resources.
He said the fight for the struggle is apt and people should come together to ensure that Africa is fully integrated and developed.
Meanwhile, NACOFAG is a network of farmers’ organization with national inclusive membership, with the overall objective of making sure all Gambians enjoy the availability and adequate quality of food variety at all times.