By Makutu Manneh
The Gambia has received fifty tractors, one hundred and thirteen farming tools and spare parts, as support to underprivileged farmers of the country. The equipment were donated by the Japanese Government.
In a ceremony presided over by President Adama Barrow to inaugurate these farm implements on Monday June 7th 2021 at New Yundum football field, President Barrow noted that the project called KR2, is implemented in the form of selling quality Japanese rice at a funded price to underprivileged Gambian farmers. Barrow further said that the proceeds from the rice sales that is deposited in a special account at the Central Bank of the Gambia, is invested in relevant short or medium-term projects; that the projects will boost production and productivity levels of crops and livestock value chains in the country.
“More importantly, these projects seek to improve food security, uplift income statuses and reduce hardship for rural women farmers,” President Barrow said; that the handing over of the tractors and agricultural equipment were timely as the sector has commenced a transformation program to modernize and mechanize crop and livestock production and processing.
“This is explicitly captured in the National Development Plan and reflected in the second-generation Gambia National Agriculture Investment Plan, Food and Nutrition Security,” President Barrow said.
Barrow informed the gathering that a public private partnership model has been developed through which twenty tractors will be allocated to and managed by a competent private individual; that the remaining thirty tractors will be operated and managed initially, by using the ploughing team model.
“Youth will be employed and trained to operate the tractors and provide services such as ploughing, sowing and harvesting, to farming communities across the country,” he said.
President Barrow said for the services to be readily accessible, designated service centers will be established in each Region, where tractors and their accessories will be stationed as well as maintenance teams from the Agricultural Engineering Service Unit and Regional mechanics with mobile maintenance units, will ensure proper usage and maintenance of the machines.
President Barrow called on all stakeholders to work amicably for the successful implementation of the initiative, adding that Government projects are for the people and should be safeguarded by them.
“I commend the agriculture sector personnel for their laudable efforts and my Government will continue to give the sector the focus and investments it deserves,” President Barrow concludes.