Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fertilizer Sale Stands at D111, 584, 873

Rainy Season Not Enough to Achieve Food Self Sufficiency – MK Sanneh

Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) The Deputy Minister of Agriculture has revealed that there were three consignments of fertilizers totaling 173, 216 bags equivalent to D111, 584, 873 sold through Regional
Governors in the period 2007 to date.

Mr. Momodou S. Kah was responding to a question posed by the National Assembly member for Lower Niumi, Cherno M.A. Cham at the National Assembly in Banjul on Thursday 1st April, 2010 during the first meeting of lawmakers in the 2010 Legislative Session Questions and Answers.

Hon. Cham noted that the last parliamentary question on the fertilizer supplied to the Regions for sale in 2007 and 2008 has not been reconciled since December 2008. He asked the
Deputy Minister to further inform the National Assembly on the updated state of
the accounts as at 31st December 2009; including the names of all
public and private agencies or individuals who owe the state.

Mr. Kah said the Ministry of Agriculture conducted three reconciliation exercises of the fertilizers distributed and sold through the regional governors. The latest of these was in
November 2009 after the arrival of the fertilizer stock bought by The Gambia
Government in September 2009 in preparation for the 2010 cropping season.

“During this period - 2007 to date, there were in all three consignments of fertilizers totaling 173,216 bags equivalent to D111, 584,873 that were sold through regional Governors,” he

He added that as at November 2009 which was the latest reconciliation by the Ministry, there was physical stock balance of 62, 672 bags representing the value of D40,736,800 and a total
cash sale of D42,619,035, which amounted to D83, 355, 835, leaving an
outstanding balance of D28,229,038.

Minister of Agriculture deals with only the regional governors and it is the responsibility of the governors to sell the fertilizer either directly to the farming community or
through their own appointed agents, the Deputy Minister noted with regards to
names of public and private agencies or individuals who owe the state.

Hon. Cham also asked the Deputy Minister of Agriculture to inform the Assembly as to how soon will the arrears be made good or paid to the Government without further delay since the
sums involved could not be negligible, as it belongs to the state.

However, Deputy Minister Kah stressed that the Ministry of Agriculture is vigorously pursuing the recovery of the outstanding balance of the fertilizer from the regional
governors, but he was quick to add that ‘we have been made to understand that
the best of the amount outstanding is with the Regional Fertilizer Agents and
that plans are on the way to organise recovery campaign.’

He explained that on two occasions his Ministry sent reminders to governors expressing concerns over the recovery of the outstanding amounts. In this connection, he said another
reconciliation exercise by the Ministry is currently on and is to be followed by
a Joint Recovery Campaign by the Ministry and the Regional Governors. “It is
hoped that the Joint Recovery Campaign will go a long way in the recovery
exercise,” Kah said optimistically.

The National Assembly Member for Jarra West, Hon. Njai Darboe asked the Deputy Minister of Agriculture to tell lawmakers when shall the Mixed Farming Centres (MFC’s) be rehabilitated
to make farmers have easy access to farm implement, improved seeds, fertilizer
application methods and the use of farm implements, which could also give the
District Extension Supervisors and Staff space to be housed comfortably.

In response, Momodou S. Kah said the MFC's will be rehabilitated in the very near future under what he called the auspices of the on-going restructuring of the Department of
Agriculture. However, he also note that the MFC’s, after review and
rehabilitation according to the restructuring plan will be called Agricultural
Improvement Centres(AIC), and will serve as first entry point for farmer

“This approach is designed to ensure more district and village level focus in the implementation and management of agricultural and other rural development activities by bringing
well-trained and specialized personnel; equipped with modern techniques closer
to the beneficiary rural communities,” he said.

According to him, if the integrated strategies and comprehensive action-plans prepared alongside the restructuring are implemented, the image of the Centre's will significantly
improve both in terms of accommodation and role, which will also enhance the
expansion of the diversification and promotion efforts in rural communities.

The Member for Kiang West, Hon. Momodou .K. Sanneh argued that the three months seasonal agricultural farming in this country is not ideal in achieving food self
sufficiency. He asked the Deputy Minister to inform the Assembly whether his Ministry
has any plan to introduce a comprehensive irrigation system in this country to
enable Gambia
farmers to work on their farms throughout the year.

Minister Kah admitted that three months seasonal agricultural farming is not ideal if Gambia is to achieve food self sufficiency, however, he noted that the Ministry of Agriculture
in collaboration with partners has conceived and elaborated interventions that
would address the issue of water availability throughout the year. "I want
to inform this august assembly that the Government through the Ministry is
currently engaging expert efforts in studies and designs that will produce
plans with costing for the introduction of agricultural irrigation system to
enable farmers work on their farms all year round,” he said. VOL:2 ISSN:153

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