As Gambian farmers are bracing up for another rainy season, help has come their way from the Japanese government, with the supply of 50 farming tractors to help them boost modern agricultural mechanization and food production. The Japanese grant gesture is part of the project themed: empowering underprivileged Gambian farmers through access to mechanization services.
In his speech, the Japanese Ambassador to The Gambia said: “This grant expresses the Japanese’s government’s commitment to supporting The Gambian government’s efforts to boost modernization of the agricultural sector. In this respect, this equipment will contribute to the increase in the farmers’ productivity and the crop production as well as income and employment.”
He said the project is part of Japan’s goal to promote food security. Japan has also been helping to provide clean drinking water for rural folks in The Gambia.
Amie Fabureh is Gambia’s Agriculture Minister. She spoke Wednesday at a ceremony where the tractors were inaugurated.
“The launching ceremony of the much-needed agriculture equipment is well in line with our sector transformative agenda of modernizing agriculture as enshrined in the National Development Plan 2018-2021 and reflected into the second generation of Gambian national agriculture investment plan, food and nutrition security, normally known as denied food,” she said.
President Barrow notes that these projects seek to improve food security, uplift income statuses and reduce hardship for rural women farmers.
“In my government’s drive to achieve these objectives, the agriculture sector formulated a mechanisation plan. Thus, supported by our friends, the Government of Japan, fifty (50) tractors and accessories were procured,” said The Gambian President.
Barrow has underscored the importance of involving the private sector in the project.
He says lessons should be learned from previous agricultural projects in which equipment and materials procured and distributed to farmer groups served for a shorter while than expected. In most cases, he says, this was due to inappropriate use and mismanagement.
“This time around, a Public-Private Partnership model has been developed, through which twenty tractors will be allocated to and managed by a competent private individual. The remaining thirty will be operated and managed, initially, using the ploughing team model,” he said.
“In this model, youths will be employed and trained to operate the tractors and provide services, such as ploughing, sowing and harvesting, to the farming communities across the country. So that the services are readily accessible, designated service centres will be established in each region, where tractors and accessories will be stationed. Hopefully, in the future, more competent private players will be invited, and a fleet of tractors put under their management,” he added.