Farmers advised to observe good practices to multiply new bio-fortified crop varieties

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EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: National Seed Secretariat (NSS) head of seed quality control and certification unit, Moro Lamin Bah, has advised rural farmers to adhere to the recommended good farming practices to ensure increased agricultural production and productivity for the achievement of food security and nutrition in The Gambia.

Addressing farmers during the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and stakeholders monitoring and evaluation visit to farmers who are leading the  multiplication process of the newly introduced pro-vitamin A rich crop varieties in Mamut Fana, Pacharr and Manneh Kunda in the Central River Region (CRR) South, Mr. Bah observed that some of the techniques are not being effectively observed in the agronomic practices being promoted by the agricultural extension staff which can led to low yield.

The food fortification project is funded by the European Union call “improving food security and nutrition in the Gambia through food fortification.” It targets to improve the nutritional and health status of vulnerable populations suffering from micro-nutrient deficiencies, particularly for women, girls and children in the North Bank and Central River Regions, through increase consumption of micro-nutrient fortified foods.

Bio-Fortified Orange Flesh Sweet Potato (OFSP) Farm at Manneh Kunda Women garden in CRR

80 percent of Gambia’s population of just over 2 million people, depend on agriculture for food and cash income. The farming economy is the only means of income creation for the majority of rural families most of whom live below the poverty line.

“Poor farming practices lead to low yields and reduce income earning of farmers which can contribute to food and nutrition insecurity and poverty,” Mr Jarju said.

Mr. Bah encouraged farmers to adopt agriculture extension service officers’ advice on proper land preparation, spacing and weeding and to ensure that the varietal traits of the newly introduced crops are maintained for increased yields and income.

With about 54% of Gambia’s land area a good quality arable land (5,500 square kilometers), the country has the potential to become self-sufficient in food with even a surplus for export.

Bio-Fortified Cassava garden

At Manneh Kunda gardens, women president Dusu Ceesay said lack of water and proper fencing are affecting their production, with animal intrusion which is triggering major constraint on them. They made passionate appeal for assistance to improve their plight.

Abi Jallow, head of Kambeng Kafo in in Pacharr explained that she and her household of more than 30 people have been consuming the vitamin A rich orange flesh sweet potato for the past two months.

She also runs a farmer field school noting that vines have been given to their neighboring communities for multiplication while reiterating their commitment to the achievement of the target objective of the bio-fortification project.

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