Africa-Press – Gambia. The agriculture minister Dr. Demba Sabally has envisioned that The Gambia can be self-sufficient in rice if rice farmers take full advantage of the opportunities that the government and its partners have provided and continue to offer in the rice production domain.
The agriculture minister said rice production is currently taking place at Janjanbureh, Barajaly, Jahally, and Pacharr.
“Through the advice of His Excellency, 20,000kg or 40 tons of rice seeds were distributed among rice growers in the CRR,” Dr. Sabally explained as he delivered a speech at Brikamaba in the CRR during President Barrow’s community meeting there as part of his Meet-The-People tour.
Dr. Sabally, however, acknowledged that the rice fields were not perfect, adding that the aim of the President is to transform them to the standard of ricefields in China.
“In 2023, the President supported the dredging of 31km of land at Jahally and Pacharr. The government also deployed 20 tractors in the CRR to promote rice production. So, Your Excellency, we would like to congratulate you for the support that you gave to the farmers in the CRR. It is because of your intervention that farmers got fertilizer at the right time and at an affordable price,” he acknowledged.
He disclosed that 20,000 tons or 400,000 bags of fertilizer are currently in GGC’s stores, including the one in CRR. The minister also acknowledged that the President, through the ROOTS Project, gave 1,553 bags of fertilizer to farmers for free.
“He also gave 350 bags of maize seeds to maize growers and through his advice, D262M was distributed among 19 farmers as part of Giraffe’s matching grant. Most of the beneficiaries are from the CRR,” the agric. minister stated.
He explained that the people of CRR are also engaged in horticulture, adding that the ROOTS Project has rehabilitated the vegetable gardens of Sololo and Brikamaba.
“The project will also help the villages of Njoben, Saruja, and Wellingara with gardens,” Dr. Sabally further explained.
Meanwhile, the minister said the government has created livestock water drinking points at three CRR settlements, including Sare Nfally and Sare Yonki with a view to ending the conflict over water between farmers and animal rearers.
On the saline intrusion of some rice farms in CRR, Dr. Saballysaid: “We want to assure you that NARI and the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) are working on seeds that can be grown in salty water.
“The goal of the President is to enable the country to attain rice self-sufficiency and that cannot be achieved without the cooperation of rice growers,” he pointed out.