The governments of The Gambia and Indonesia Thursday signed in Banjul a Memorandum of Understanding, designed to promote agricultural development in the West African nation.
The Gambia’s Agriculture minister, Solomon Owens, and the Indonesian assistant minister of Innovation and Technology, Dr. Mat Syukur, signed on behalf of the two governments,.
The ceremony was witnessed by the Dakar-based Indonesian ambassador to Banjul as well as other senior officials of both Countries.
Through this agreement, Indonesia will provide technical assistance, farm inputs and other supplies to its The Gambia. At the ceremony, five power tillers were presented by Indonesia to The Gambia government.
The MoU was a follow up to the earlier protocol signed in 2005 in Senegal, which yielded mutual benefits for both countries. This included interventions at the Rural Farmers Technical Training Centre in Jenoi, Lower River Region (LRR).
Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy of The Gambia. The Minister of Agriculture, Mr Solomon Owens said the agreement will go a long way towards developing the sector, the mainstay of The Gambia’s economy.
The minister also affirmed that the MoU will strengthen technical assistance between the two governments as well as create room for the provision of inputs, supplies and manpower to The Gambia. Owens also praised Indonesia for providing scholarships to the government of The Gambia, acknowledging that quite a good number of Gambians have and continue to study in the Asian nation.
Dr. Mat Syukur, agreed that the agreement will enhance cooperation between the two countries and contribute positively to agricultural development.
As in African countries, Deputy Minister Syukur said the agriculture sector in Indonesia plays a strategic role in their national development endeavours whether as a source of income, food and nutrition for their people, or as a source of industrial raw material, export earning and driving force for other economic sectors.
The Gambia government is committed to significantly reducing RICE imports, and President Jammeh plans to achieve ZERO Imports by 2016.
While the Indonesian government has been actively involved in providing technical and material assistance to The Gambia’s agriculture sector, Jawara said they are committed to tapping the expertise of their Indonesian counterparts. The Gambia has average rice yields of 1.7 tonnes per hectare on irrigated land and 1.2 tonnes on swampy land. The country certainly has the potential to be self-sufficient in Rice production and drastically reduce current importation level of 70,000 tonnes annually.
He thanked the Indonesians for the donation of the power tillers, noting that they will go a long way towards complementing President Jammeh’s objective of reducing the importation of Rice. What The Gambia needs is mechanization hence the power tillers would be very useful particularly in the swampy areas were the heavy tractors cannot access easily.
We at Belvyna support this posture to stop Rice importation. The foreign exchange expended can be channelled to the real sector for rapid development.