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''The Naturally bred rural female farmer'' is always the term that I would like to portray my farming experiences in my country and this has given me an adequate knowledge to contribute positively towards any fora that discusses auricular practices most especially within the African concept. In that case i can comfortably put forward my contributions in addressing the above Topic and go ahead to give out some few recommendations that may go a long way in addressing the issue.
In my country, the Gambia, for instance the most important and valuable naturally gifted asset that we have is fresh water. The Gambia, in West Africa is mostly surrounded by fresh water in the forms of rivers, lakes and natural canals. This ,makes agriculture one of the best income generating activity for the country. In a flash back( that is as far back as i can remember) in the late 1970s towards the early 80s the Government of the Gambia had a great chance to grow rice along the river Gambia using a simple and cheap means of water supply which to water the rice fields and this was called ''IRRIGATION''. In this system, a simple machine was used to propel water from the river to the rice fields and water was accesses using locally made canals. in that case water was available through out the dry season which made it possible for rural people of the Gambia to embark on a year round rice production. In that, the Gambia at those time was self sufficient in rice and only locally grown rice was consumed and farmers even had excess to sell to the local market.
My suggestion therefore for indigenous traditional farming practices would be for farmers to go back to the local irrigation system hence we have the river Gambia which is fresh and readily available.
2: The role of ensuring more sustainable natural resource management in supporting the eradication of extreme poverty?
In order to eradicate extreme poverty by ensuring more sustainable natural resource management the first thing we as policy makers need to think about is how best to preserve our forest cover. In recent years the world has been experiencing scanty and unpredictable rain falls which are affecting agriculture in all ways. Governments need to put in policies that will discourage illegal logging and encourage more ways of preserving our forest. We need to encourage community foresting where by communities are given the full responsibilities of planting more trees and falling few ones.
Another strategy to be used in sustainable natural resource management is to encourage more organic farming.
Good Day to all members of the FSN Forum. I salute you all for availing me the opportunity to gain varied ideas on Agriculture especially from other African countries. To start with, i want to put it to any one reading my post that my specialised area of study from diploma to Bachelors level is Public and Environmental Health but i want to say that I am so much in love with Agriculture that I value it than any thing. The reason is i am an agriculturist by nature because i am born and brought up from a very tiny village in the Gambia whose main activities are only Agriculture.
Back to Question Number 1: If we want to succeed in lifting people, from extreme poverty we need to consider the following points:
- We need to value Agriculture knowing well that every body in the world depends in one way or the other on agricultural produce. In that the first thing we need to think about are the people that are directly involved in the Agriculture Value Chain, that is the farmer, the trader, the processor and the consumer. All farmers must have access to enough land at little or no cost so as to produce in abundance to meet every body's demand.
- In the Gambia, for example, majority of our farmers, both in large and small scale are women. These women are involved in all forms of farming which include but not limited to: vegetable gardening, farming on different food crops, animal husbandry just to name a few. Unfortunately, these are people who are marginalised when it comes to land accquisition. In the Gambia, women dont own land but can only ''be borrowed'' based on the time they need it and this is some times difficult. Having said that women in the whole world need to legally own land to enable them do all kinds of agriculture without fear or favour.
- Another solution to the problem is to mechanise agriculture and do away with the old ways of farming in order to produce abundance.
- When I was in the village farming with my father, I cannot remember any time that he uses NPK (Nitrogen, Phophorous and Potassium) in his crops but instead we always use organic manure in the form of animal waste to fertilise our farm land. In this case if farmers are given adequate resources and rear animals along side other means of farming and enough space to keep and rear their animals, there will be enough and cheap manure to keep the land fertile in order to produce more.
- Another important aspect to consider to eradicate poverty is to encourage more processing of our farm produce to reduce food waste. In the Gambia for instance, we produce lots of different fruits and vegetables during different times of the year but once the season for those fruits and vegetables have passed, you can never see traces of them. Any surplus that was not be consumed when fresh must rot and be wasted because there are no processing proceedures for them. So a lot of investment need to be put in place for poor countries in the African Region so as to:
- create more job opportunities for people especially the youths
- be able to export to other countries( such as America , EU and Asia) to boost the country's economy
- maximise produce and minimise waste.
6. Last on this but not the least, our leaders and policy makers need to close the Gender Gap in the accquisition of land especially in our traditional and cultural societies. We need to ensure that women have equal opportunities to farm lands just like theri fellow women. We all know that most of both our cash crops and domestic produces are cultivated by women using the most old and ancient way of farming, such as manually tilling the land,using hoes, etc.
1: What are the biggest challenges youth in Africa are facing after going through youth-specific capacity development initiatives in Agriculture?
This particular Forum is very much interesting. After giving out my preamble on Youths and Agriculture from the Gambia Situation i also want to take the opportunity to answer the above questions as applied to the Gambian situation as far as youths and agriculture is concerned.
Recently in the Gambia the Government, through a technical assistance from the European Union have started training youths on various life skills trainings and one of them is on Agriculture. In the Gambia 80% of the population are Farmers and the best way to empower youths is through farming because it is already a traditional way of life. Unfortunately the likely challenges that is going to face the youths after training them on Agriculture is sustainability. If youths are trained and they are not given enough capital, that is madern farming tools, money and access to wide markets theri skills will not be able to benefit them and that is one of the biggest challenges facing African Youths engaged in Agriculture.
2: What are the examples of existing post -capacity development sustainability and initiatives for youth in Agriculture in Africa. What work and what dose not work? Are there any success stories and good practices that can be shared.
Back to the Gambia, West Africa, there are existing post -capacity development sustainability initiatives for youth in Agriculture. One of them is the training of young Entertreneurs on Good Agricultural and Good Hygienic Practices by the Food Safety and Quality Authority of The Gambia an Initiatives that came up to ensure that youths are empowered. One divdiden that this training has yielded is that most of the youths trained are now engaged in small scale enterpreneurship such as Fish Processing, the Selling of fish from the coastal region to the inland where fish is scarce. Most of the youths have also embarked on poultry Farming and most are now engaged on a year round cassave cultivation using available resources to produce abundant cassava.
What dose not work in this initiatives right now is now is the possibility to export in the nearest future because these trained youths still need more capacity building and extra resources for them to be able to follow the Food Safety Management System that may eventually accord them the opportunity to be audited independently and certifiec internationally to meet requirements.
The success stories are that these youths in Agriculture have now committed themselves, using their meger resources to start doing business.
3 What post capacity development support do the youth need? What can the youth do to support each other in developing their skills and capacity?
The post-capacity development support that youths in Africa doing Agriculture need are capacity building and capital to sustain the initiatives given to them. For example if youths are trained in ground nut production, they need to be trained extenively on Good Agricultural Practices. They also need mechanised Agriculture and in that youths need to be provided with modern machinery to enable them produce more and build wider markets. Most importantly youthjs need training.
What the youths need to support each other is to form netwroks. Net working always make things easy and in that they will be able to share ideas easily.
4: What enabling environment is needed to ensure sustainability of youth in Agriculture capacity development initiatives.
The enabling environment that youths need to ensure sustainability of youth in Agriculture capacity development initiatives is empowerment. Youths need to be fully empowered in all aspects.
5: Is there a role in Modern Technologies, including information and Communication Technologies in sustaining capacity development initiatives.
Yes Information and Communication is also the easiest and quickest way for youths to learn and share information on Modern Agricultural Technologies. Youths can share information through e-learning courses.
Africa is a youthful continent is as authentic as the holy books and the only way to ensure that Africa is self-sufficient in Food is by empowering our youthful population. Here in the Gambia the Government is doing all that is possible to ensure that the youths are empowered through agriculture. One of the Major activities embarked upon in my Agency right now is the training of youths on Good Agricultural Practices through Food Value Chain. Choosing casava as a main crop that every Gambian can cultivate is a positive way of helping youths to grow cassava in abundance so as to meet both local and international demand. We are anticipating that in the near future the Gambia will grow cassava in abundance using Good Agricultural Practices in order to be able to export cassava and cassava products to the most stringhten countries, such as the EU, which have very strict hygiene and safety procedures.