Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Gambian Farmers’ Laud PIWAMP’s Activities

Farmers across the length and breadth of The Gambia have hailed the activities of the Participatory Integrated Watershed Management Project (PIWAMP) in their regions.
PIWAMP in the recent years has improved our livelihood, especially we, (the women) of Jarumeh Koto village, remarked Mrs. Lisa Ceesay, who was speaking to Global Youth Innovation Network- GYIN-Gambia National Co-ordinator, Journalist Mamadou Edrisa Njie at the recent PIWAMP 2011 annual consultative meeting in Jenoi, Lower River Region.

She vouched that PIWAMP, since it started operations in the village in the rice fields, has constructed a multiple span bridge (2 bridge) for the women farmers at Jarumeh Koto rice fields. She added that the construction of the two bridges, have facilitated quick access to their rice fields, and also opened up new areas for rice cultivation for the women of Jarumeh Koto in Sami District, Central River North.
According to Madam Ceesay, the bridges also serve them (the women) and their young ones as a cushion against traumatic and unfriendly encounters with aquatic wildlife. She also noted that the construction of these bridges has minimized the risks of serious accidents that occur at the rice fields.
PIWAMP has also posted two extension workers in the villages- Mr. Ousman Bajinka and Mr. Sang Bass, whom Ceesay described as hard-working extension workers.
Hear her: “The two gentlemen are very hard working and they respond to our calls at anytime.
‘‘We the women, are proud of their work and in fact anytime we need their service with regards to our rice fields or any problem we notice in our farming, they always respond to us positively and give us good advices and educate us on our activities in the rice fields.”
In the village of Jarumeh Koto, Ceesay said that very few young people are engaging in rice cultivation and, she therefore called on the Jarumeh youths to go back to the land.
She reminded them that there are vast areas of land that they can cultivate for rice production, cereal, and even for gardening.
Madam Ceesay, while noting that PIWAMP’s operations in the area had boosted rice production in the villages, was quick to point to the 2010-2011 failed crop season. She attributed it to low rainfall in the country.
Sarjo  Dampha of Kachang Village  in North Bank Region is also appreciative of PIWAMP’s intervention in their area, noting that PIWAMP, since has, since the commencement of it operations in their area, ‘‘been working with women groups, and has constructed bridges, causeways, dikes and spillways’’.
These developments, Dampha held, have eased lots of burden on farmers in his area.
Having observed that that the women dominate rice cultivation, Dampha used the opportunity to call on the men folk to follow suit.
Rice cultivation, Dampah noted, is very important as one would eat what he or she has grown and could also have income for the family.
He also called on the youth to see agriculture as a point of business and not as a sector for illiterates or school drop-outs.
With his finger pointed at the GYIN-Gambia National Coordinator, he remarked, ‘‘You (the youth) should  help the elderly in their rice fields; we are now old.’’
At that juncture he pointed out that many youth are roaming in the Greater Banjul and its surroundings. To Dampha, the youth that are not engaged in kind of work should to go back to their villages and help their parents.
Comparing his youthful days and now, Dampha said in the 80’s agricultural sector was booming but now, due to low rainfall coupled with expensive farming inputs, it is difficult for farmers to cultivate vast areas land.
High cost of fertilizer is also making farming difficult nowadays, Dampha told the interviewer, while calling on the government of The Gambia and its partners to help farmers with fertilizer that is cheap.
Mr. Mbemba Dibassey of Yona Village in Central River Region North also gave PIWAMP a pat on the back, saying it’s doing a remarkable work in their area.
According to him, PIWAM project has completed four span bridge for them (the farmers), noting that farming in their area is dominated by women.
Dibassey advised the youth to create community based youth gardens and farms, e.g rice, groundnut, millet farms.
He however, stressed the importance of training young people in marketing skills so as to enable sell their own produce, as well as training them in processing garden produce.
While admitting that the youth are also engaged in farming, he was quick to add that only few of them have their own farms.
Alhagie Muhammadou Natou Sissoho of Sare Alpha in Basse, Upper River Region said PIWAMP has successfully implemented many activities in their area.
According to him, in villages like Sare Alpha, Dampha Kunda and Sabi, PIWAMP has implemented upland conservation that is Vertivar Transplanting of 11.95 metres in the three villages.
This, he said, has raised the cumulative achievements, which had been at a standstill for the past years in their area.
He also raised the issue of youth for not actively taking part in rice cultivation and having their own farms.
Aminita Njie of Galleh Manda village in Cenral River Region South focused her remarks on the PIWAMP 2011 annual consultative meeting, acknowledging that the meeting was successful.
In her view, such meeting are very important for the farmers, pointing out that the annual consultative meeting gives them the opportunity to raise issues that are affecting their projects and put forward recommendations to PIWAMP for implementation.
The annual consultative meeting, she added, is also an important learning exercise that avails them the opportunity to highlight their successes and challenges during their project implementation.
Mrs. Njie stressed the importance of holding such meetings regularly, adding that as beneficiaries, they would critically engage their funders.
She described PIWAMP as a participatory project and therefore called on men, women and youth to be actively involved in PIWAMP activities.
Madam Njoba Sarr of Pakau Njobo village in Upper Nuimi in North Bank Region said that in their village, they have a women group that works with PIWAMP. She noted that since they started working with PIWAMP, their farming yield has increased.
She decried the lack of farming inputs, and called on government and its partners to come to their aid in that respect.
Again, she appealed to government and any other partner for that matter to help them with quality seeds for farming.
Mama Jaiteh from Njawara village, North Bank Region said that young people in their area are not actively engaging in farming. But she is optimistic that if the youth are provided with incentives like finance, they would engage in meaningful production.
In her area, youth people could do sheep fattening, gardening etc. noting that youth also need marketing so as to generate adequate income. She exhorts the youths to form themselves into groups so as to benefit from PIWAMP project. Sending young people to training centres like the Njawara Agricultural Training Centre could also create opportunities for them (young) people, she suggested, hoping that after the training they could be self-employed because they have skills.
Jawara further urged the youth to also acquire skills to improve their livelihood, in agriculture and agribusiness; reassuring them that venturing into businesses like poultry, and animal husbandry

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