President Barrow Calls on Agriculture Ministry to Support Gambian Rice Producers

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A press release from State House in Banjul dated 19 March 2024, indicates that President Barrow has instructed personnel of the Ministry of Agriculture to support Gambian rice farmers to increase production.

The Minister of Agriculture Dr Demba Sabally, and his technical team have recently briefed President Adama Barrow about their past activities and plan of action for the next twelve months.

According to the news release, President Barrow has told the gathering that The Gambia has been struggling for almost 60 years to feed itself.

“We cannot blame anyone because we have the land and the human resources,” he noted, adding that the consortium of business persons controlling rice importation is only focusing on making profit, He called on the Ministry of Agriculture to support Gambians to invest in rice production.

The release further indicated that the President observed that the country has been successful in cereal production but has stagnated in rice production, and therefore called on the sector to utilize its human resource and technical knowledge to improve rice production in the country. The press release added the President also challenged the industry to devise ways of minimizing rice importation. Dr Sabally disclosed that the Ministry is importing over 100 tractors, which will contribute to additional rice production to enhance national food security.  It adds that he emphasised the need for mechanisation, land development, availability of high yielding seeds, farmer education and youth encouragement in agriculture, to increase food self-sufficiency in the country.

The release said the Minister also revealed that six active projects have been ongoing, and three others are yet to be launched, noting that the Roots Project is the biggest agricultural project in the country with the aim of increasing agricultural production and market access for enhanced food security. It adds that the GIRAV project focuses on supporting vegetable gardening and other components to make agro-food systems more inclusive, productive and sustainable, stating that the regional rice value chain project is the hardware of rice factors.

“To yield crops, we must increase productivity only if our seed yields move from two tonnes per hectare, to seven tonnes per hectare,” Dr. Sabally indicated.

He said the regional rice value chain project is working with the national secretariat to expand and strengthen the seed department.

“As of now, rice production has increased by 27%, 12% on groundnut and 25% on maize,” Agriculture Minister Dr. Sabally said.

The release concludes that at the end of the session, President Barrow expressed satisfaction and urged the Agriculture Ministry to work with Gambians in the private sector, to encourage commercialised rice production towards food security.