Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Smallholder farmers’ faces poor access to markets- Banky Njie Nema

Banky Njie Nema addressing 60 MDFT Members

The livelihood of our smallholder farmers are often constrained by poor access to markets and limited entrepreneurial skills for adding value to produce with the Nema training, MDTF’s will show vulnerable farmers how to penetrate the markets been it in The Gambia or beyond- Banky Njie Business Development Officer, National Development Agricultural Land and Water Management Project (Nema) told a gathering of 60 participants.

Nema in collaboration with Concern Universal-Gambia is conducting Entrepreneurship training from the 2nd -5th December, 2013 for Multi Disciplinary Facilitation Team members (MDFT’s) at Jenoi Agricultural Training Centre in Lower River Region.

After 31 years of successful work empowering smallholder farmers in The Gambia to increase their productivity, IFAD is now scaling up activities to cover agricultural areas across the whole country. A new IFAD-supported project, the National Agricultural Land and Water Management Development Project (Nema), known in the local Mandinka language as Nema – meaning “peaceful and prosperous.”

According to Mr. Njie rapid urbanisation is however opening up domestic and regional markets and offering new market opportunities for smallholder farmers’ to supply higher value produce.
Supplying these markets offers both higher income and improved business relations for farmers but accessing these markets also requires significant upgrading in terms of product quality, quantities, and business management, said Mr. Njie.

“Research and development organisations have now recognized that improving market access and enhancing the ability of resource-poor farmers to diversify their links with markets are among the most pressing challenges in smallholder agriculture.”

The present article, he went on, highlights the key steps and procedures in building capacity among farmers, farmers groups and communities, to identify and evaluate market opportunities, develop profitable enterprises, and intensify production, while sustaining the resources upon which livelihoods depend.

Mr. Njie told his audience that the central role of agriculture in economic growth and development in Africa-including The Gambia has long been widely recognized adding that rural development and food security, agricultural education and training in Africa has traditionally focused on increasing agricultural productivity on the farm.

Governor Lower River Region (LRR), Salif Puye spoke at length on the importance of the entrepreneurship saying that acquiring business skills training will pave a way for success in business.

He adds: “The training will guide you (MDFT’s) whom upon acquiring the business knowledge and skills you can provide quality extension services to the farmers’ involved in rice and vegetable value chain.”

Governor advised MDFT’s to work as a team helping the farmers noting than with team sprit a lot can be achieved as well as to maintain good working relationship.

The Gambia, he said can only be developed by Gambian, therefore, “we need to tighten our belts for the development of our beloved nations.”

Mr, Jewru Saidy, Regional Agricultural Director, LRR, Mr. Lamin Sawo CU project Business as Farming all spoke at the training while Mr. Micky Jawla Lowland Coordinator Nema project moderated the official opening ceremony.

IFAD has financed nine programmes and projects in The Gambia since 1982, investing a total of US$53.6 million and directly benefiting more than 126,000 rural households. The majority of beneficiaries are women,

IFAD’s goal is to empower poor rural women and men in developing countries-including The Gambia to achieve higher incomes and improved food security.

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