Sustainable Land Management Project, (SLMP) a unit under the Participatory Integrated Watershed Management Project (PIWAMP), organized a six days training of trainers on Sustainable Land Management for sixty multi-level partner stakeholder institutions.
SLMP project seeks to address interlinked problems of rural poverty, food insecurity and land degradation.
After the training, trained participants are expected to conduct a step-down training for extension workers and farmers in their respective regions.
Participants were divided into two groups-participants from Western Gambia-West Coast, North Bank and Lower River Region respectively were group one and Easter Gambia comprises participants from Upper River, and Central River North and South were group two.
The training was held at the Agricultural Rural Farmers’ Training Centre at Jenoi in Lower River Region from 11-13 April for Western Gambia, and 14-16 April, 2012 for Eastern Gambia participants respectively.
Speaking at the official opening of the training, Mr. Falalo Touray, director of Agriculture, Lower River Region (LRR) emphasized on the importance of the training saying that capacity building is key element in any project.
He added that the SLMP is a new component of PIWAMP and called on participants to take the training seriously and make best use of the gained knowledge.
He thanked the sponsors and the government of The Gambia for not only providing funds but also creating the enabling environment for project to be implemented in the country.
“This project (SLPM) is a new component of PIWAM, we need make it better in our country so as for the project to be replicated in other regions as it is a pilot project in the Gambia,” Mr. Touray stated.
He advised participants to take the project as theirs and work towards the success of the pilot project.
Mr. Touray told trainers to take the project seriously adding that “if we succeed, we do well for ourselves but if we fail, that’s means, we failed other countries that should benefit from the project after The Gambia.”
Director Touray said SLMP is a national project and should be seen by the trainers as a national project and works towards the accomplishment of the project.
He expressed his hope that the project will be successfully implemented and thanked the participants for their positive turn-out , which he said demonstrates their commitments and interest.
He told SLMP coordinating committee to form village committees where village committees do not exist but advised them not to duplicate their work.
Giving an overview of the project, Mr. Kebba S. Manka national coordinator PIWAMP- SLMP said the project is an additional project that is managed by PIWAMP.
He added that the main outputs of the project include operational at national and regional level saying that Soil and Land Management (SLM) platforms comprising a multi-level partnership of stakeholders institutions promoting SLM.
He noted that the project priority beneficiaries are the smallholders that are dependent on traditional upland crops and lowland rice cultivation as their main source of livelihood.
In the lowland, he said the primary target group will be women, whereas, for the upland, the focus is on conservation farming and men, women and youths will be the target beneficiaries.
The project, he went on is expected to realize major environmental and socio-economic benefits through its investments in SLM interventions aimed at restoring, sustaining and enhancing the protective and productive functions of the lowland and upland ecosystem, he explained.
The project, he continued, is a Global Environmental Facility (GEF) project through African Development Bank to PIWAMP for execution in the country.
According to Manka, the lowland and upland sustainable crop, livestock, forestry and eco-tourism activities will be supported and are expected to result in a significant increase in the returns from such livelihood activities impact on food security at various levels, while contributing to the alleviation of rural poverty.
The beneficiary communities, he said will take the lead in the participatory planning activities, thus ensuring a demand driven local planning process.
The SLMP, he added was designed in recognition of the fact that the current extent of land degradation in The Gambia has both local and global environmental consequences.
According to Manka, the SLMP is also aimed at ensuring that PIWAMP activities contribute to the realization of optional global environmental benefits, including reducing land degradation, conserving biodiversity and improving the adaptive response to climate change.
“SLMP is a project that we have to take seriously and take it as ours” said Dr. Saikou Sanyang Director of Agriculture North Bank Region (NBR).
According to Dr. Sanyang, the training programme is to equip trainers with knowledge for them to use during their work in the communities. He advised participants to share the gained information during the training to the beneficiaries.
Dr. Sanyang said he is also hopeful that the project will be successfully implemented in the country noting that the project has come up with difference approach- from the grass-root level to top level which he added is a very good approach.
At the end of the project, Dr. Sanyang told participants that they are going be gauge base on our performance and called on them to the project as a national project.
The following topics were discussed on day one; Concept of sustainable Land Management, Land Use/Land Sustainability Classification, Integrated Watershed Management and Conservation, Role of Soil and Water Conservation in Sustainability Land Management, Basic Soil Survey and Overviews of Gambian Soils, Principles of Agricultural Extension.
Day two the following topics with goes with the practical, Crop Land Management/ Grazing Capacity, Agro-forestry, Watershed Factors (climate) Affecting Watershed Development, Overview of Causes and Consequences of Watershed Deterioration, Community Mobilization, PRA, Concept, Tools and Participatory Watershed Mapping, Management and Plans, Monitoring and Evaluation in SLM, and Role of Extension in Agricultural project implement.