Jahally and Pacharr rice fields have long been experimented to serve as Gambia’s main food basket, rice production in particular, but these two massive rice production projects had continually failed to serve the very purpose of their existence as far as the national attention given to them is concerned.
This year’s 2016 rice self-sufficiency vision tour has rekindled the hopes of rejuvenating the Pacharr rice farm to contribute to the realisation of the rice and food self-sufficiency vision that the presidential ‘Dialogue with the people’ tour has been promoting in the course of the past over-one week.
The Pacharr rice farm, in the Central River Region spans about 1,105 hectares part of which is being managed by small holder farmers and coordinated by a rice growers’ association. They are involved in an all-year-round production through tidal irrigation.
In a visit to the project site on Wednesday, 23rd April 2014, the President of the Republic, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya AJJ Jammeh, proposed for an integrated farming system which would involve rice production and aquaculture.
He however called for the canals to be cleaned in order to allow for viable aquaculture. He said the small farmers must each clean their area of the canal to ensure shared responsibility, indicating that government has spent huge amount of money on this project. In this regard the President asked the desk officer and the agric team to work together to make sure that the canal is taken care of and that the integrated rice and aquaculture farming is materialised.
“We cannot develop this place and people do not take care of it. They either take care of it or we replace them,” he stressed.
About 125 hectares of the total rice field have been left uncultivated due to lack of access point to water supply in the dry season. The President hopes to develop the area to ensure maximal utilisation of the farm.
Previous visits were to the communities of Boiram and Wallykunda in the Central River Region.
Surrounded by seven cluster villages, the rice farm in Boiram is hampered by improper dykes and lack of proper water channels necessary for an all-year-round rice production. To solve this experts suggested for the construction of big dykes and the President promised the construction of a rounded laterite road built like a dyke, “that would last for 35 years”.
Wallykunda has similar features all of which would be taken care in the realisation of the Vision 2016.
Report by Madiba Sillah and Aji Fatou Jammeh
Courtesy of Department of Information Services