Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Agriculture in Sare Alpha: Labour work reduces while yield increases

At least 200 hundred kilometres from Basse, the regional capital of Upper River Region (URR), is Sare Alpha.  It is a traditional agrarian village, like many other communities in the region and in The Gambia as a whole.
At the village, the main preoccupation of all is subsistence farming. 
Since the formation of the village, at least 200 years ago, they have been alternatively farming on the same piece of land using the same traditional farming methods and with little modification on the materials used.  The harvest has almost been the same year in, year out.  
But unlike some other traditional communities, the villagers of Sare Alpha are receptive to change, change for the better.  At the first visit of the officials of the Nema project and at the introduction of the concept of Farmer Field School (FFS), the villager jumped at it.
‘Nema’, is a Mandinka word adopted as the name of an International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-financed project in The Gambia.  The seven-year project is designed to reduce the poverty of rural women and youth with the objective of increasing income by improving rice and vegetable productivities.
Ousainou Sissaho of Sare Alpha recalled the first time the officials of Nema came to the village:  “When they first came here, they told us that they have a project to help us but the help is not in terms of money or materials.  They said they want to educate us on good and effective ways of agriculture, to increase our production.”
This was four years ago and it was the introduction of FFS in Sare Alpha, the first village to benefit from such project from Nema in URR.
Twenty-five people were selected by the villagers to undergo the FFS training.  Ousainou was recruited and trained to be the training facilitator.
The Sare Alpha farmer field school is mainly based on rice cultivation.  Through experiment and practical demonstration at the field school, the farmers learnt appropriate and best practices in rice seed selection, sowing, spacing, weeding, and fertilizer and pesticides application. 
The 25 farmer-students of the field school meet once-a-week and they observe and compare two plots of rice fields over the course of an entire cropping season.  One plot follows local conventional methods while the other is used to experiment with what could be considered ‘best practices’ in rice cultivation. 
Ousainou, the facilitator, said they started the training at the field school even before cultivation commence; it starts at the clearing of land for rice cultivation.  And at the commencement of the rainy season, the farmers are shown the best method of sowing rice.

Cohesion due to education: Benefits of literacy in URR

By Lamin Jahateh

Sare Alpha and Julangel are two villages in Upper River Region (URR) benefiting from a functional literacy programme being funded by a government project.  The two villages are largely inhabited by two different ethnic groups with distinctive cultures and traditions. 
But one of the similarities of the two cultures and traditions is that women do things on their own, with support from men, and men do things largely independent of women.
This segregation is largely very pronounced and prominent in Julangel, a Sarahule community.  At the village, women do not sit at the bantaba, not for any reason, and men do not go to the market, except in rear circumstances.  But the village market and the bantaba are directly opposite, just the road that divides the village into two almost equal halves also separates the bantaba from the market. 
But even at Julangel, surprisingly, older men and women, mostly house heads, share the same class, sit in the same room and are taught by the same person, thanks to the adult literacy programme. 
This has successfully bridged the divide and brought in understanding among the women themselves and between women and men.
Mr Marie Dambele, facilitator of the adult literacy class in Julangel, said: “The education has brought in so many things to this village.  Sometimes, the women here find it difficult to come to understanding on issues.  I don’t know why but it was difficult go get them cooperate successfully for long.  It does not mean they used to fight or quarrel, no. 
“They do go to one another’s programme and do things together but the collaboration and the cooperation among them was not that strong to my own observation. 
“But the classes they attend together now have brought in more unity and oneness among themselves.  All those who attend the classes together can now talk openly to one another and discuss things just like we discuss things in class.” 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

P2RS trainees speak out, say their skills have been upgraded

Rural women and youth participants have praised and thanked the project dubbed ‘Building Resilience against Food Insecurity in the Sahel (P2RS)’ for organising training programmes on business planning and management of income generating activities in their respective regions.

The P2RS trainings were conducted in Upper River, Central River and Lower River regions for rural women and youth to upgrade their skills on entrepreneurship, including business planning writing.

The three-phase training ended at Jenoi, Lower River Region, where participants from NBR and LRR gathered to improve their skills.

Kawsu Sonko, a member of Global Youth Innovation Network Gambia Chapter (GYIN Gambia NBR), described the training as very educative and instrumental, saying he learnt a lot of skills beneficial to him as a young entrepreneur.

According to Sonko, the training has also availed him the opportunity to network with other youth thereby growing his business scope.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

P2RS training aims to bolster youth, women on business development, says Mrs Tamba

The assistant business development officer of the project titled, ‘Building Resilience against Food Insecurity in the Sahel’ (P2RS), has said the training activities organised under the project are designed to upgrade the knowledge and skills of rural youths, including women, on business development.
Ms Olimatou S. Tamba said overall goal of their training activities is to empower the rural youths and women to become self-reliant.

She made this remark at the official opening ceremony of a four-day training course for rural women and youths on business and income-generating methods, held at the Microfinance centre in Brikamaba, Central River Region, from 14 to 17 November. 

“One of the key activities this training will focus on is writing business plans; the training has been designed to be practical with exercises to provide skills,” Tamba explained.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

GSK calls for research proposals into non-communicable diseases in Gambia, sub-Saharan Africa

Press release

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced the third call for proposals as part of the Africa NCD Open Lab this week, strengthening the company’s commitment to much-needed scientific research into NCDs.

The Africa NCD Open Lab is part of a series of investments GSK is making across Sub-Saharan Africa. The Open Lab, launched in 2014, aims to work in partnership with African researchers and academic groups to conduct research into non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory diseases.

NCDs are estimated to account for nearly one third (32%) of total deaths in The Gambia, and across the country the probability of dying at a young age (between age 30 and 70 years) from an NCD is 19%. NCDs cause over half of all reported adult deaths in some African countries, suggesting that NCDs could become a leading cause of health issues, disability and premature death.

The third call for research proposals to address these growing challenges is open from 7th November 2016 until 12th January 2017 and successful applicants will be awarded £100,000 for up to two years, along with scientific support from GSK.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Presidential candidate without high school qualification ineligible – legal expert

By Lamin Jahateh

Based on the Constitution of The Gambia, any candidate who does not have evidence of completing a minimum of senior secondary school education is deemed ineligible to be president, said a legal expert.
Lawyer Malick H.B. Jallow
Malick H.B. Jallow, legal practitioner and senior law lecturer at the University of The Gambia, said the rationale for minimum education requirement stipulated in the constitution for president is to ensure that presidential candidates have a sufficient amount of exposure to formal education that will enable them deal effectively with the role of president.

The Point newspaper recently had an exclusive interview with Lawyer Jallow on the legal interpretation of Section 62 of the Constitution, which outlines the minimum requirement to be president.

Section 62 (1) states that for any person to be eligible to contest for president in The Gambia, the person must be a citizen of The Gambia by birth or descent, attained the minimum age of thirty years but not more than sixty-five years.

The person must also be ordinarily resident in The Gambia for the five years immediately preceding the election; completed senior secondary school education; and be qualified to be elected as a member of the National Assembly. 

“These provisions are interpreted conjunctively, therefore all the listed requirements must be fulfilled for one to be qualified as a presidential candidate and failure to meet any of them renders you ineligible as candidate for the presidency,” Lawyer Jallow said.

The nomination for presidential candidates begins tomorrow, Monday, but the educational qualification of certain presidential candidates remains a subject of public discourse.

For example, the discussion on the educational qualification of the leader of the Gambia Democratic Congress, Mamma Kandeh, continues to gather more steam.

For now, his highest known educational level is the attainment of Secondary fourth certificate from Crab Island Secondary School.

Education experts have explained that Secondary fourth certificate is not equivalent to completion of senior secondary education.

But after graduating from Crab Island, Kandeh is said to have attended a six-month accounting course at the Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI), a tertiary institution that provides technical and vocational post-secondary education.

According to Lawyer Jallow, Section 62(1d) is quite clear and conclusive; it states that a person must, as a bare minimum, have completed senior secondary school education to be eligible for the presidency. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

NEMA poised to increase income generating capacity of women, youth

Officials on the high table during the opening ceremony of the four-training
The National Agricultural Land and Water Management Development Project, better known as NEMA, is embarking on a four-day training designed to enhance the skills of women and youth on business planning and management of income generating activities.

The training, which started on Monday at the regional education directorate in Basse, Upper River Region, is bankrolled by African Development Bank (AfDB) through a project entitled ‘Building Resilience against Food and Nutrition Insecurity in the Sahel’ (P2RS).

Speaking on the occasion, Ousman M. Colley, regional agricultural director, Central River Region south, said the alarm bell is ringing for women and youth to develop bankable business plans so as to access funding, particularly the agricultural matching grants available within projects in the country.

“We have millions in the coffers of the agricultural projects because we cannot develop bankable business plans, the grants are not moving,” he said emphatically.

Mr Colley noted that the agricultural projects are doing their utmost best in making funds accessible to all deserving youth and women.  He said this is why agricultural projects are launched in all the regions and followed by several trainings and sensitisations to reach rural dwellers.

The regional agricultural director commended Nema P2RS project for “the timely training”, saying capacity building is fundamental in national development.

A representative of the governor of URR, Victor Baldeh also hailed Nema for reaching out to rural youth and women by building their skills on entrepreneurship, business planning and business management.
 rough such training as the one organised by Nema.

He said agricultural projects are supporting and improving the livelihoods of rural youth and women th

Banky Njie, Nema P2RS Business Development Officer, explained that the training will be conducted in three regions: Upper River, Central River south and North Bank regions.

Through the P2RS, 150 young people, male and female, would be trained to enhance their skills in business planning and management, and ways to generate more revenue in any chosen business activity.