By: Lamin SM Jawo
The Regional Agricultural Directorate in collaboration with the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) on Friday conducted a one day participatory varietal selection exercise of irrigated lowland rice varieties at the Sapu experiment al farm, in Lower Fulladu West, CRR south. This exercise involved about 40 farmers who had the chance to select rice varieties of their choice .
Speaking at the ceremony, the NARI station manager, Essa Drammeh, said that the exercise is geared towards increasing rice production across the agro-ecological regions of West Africa. He pointed out that this exercise would accord farmers the chance to select at least 3 varieties of their choice from the 11 varieties .
The NARI station manager called on the farmers to select rice varities of their choice , to enhance the cultivation of quality rice in the country.
The Cereals Programme leader Absa Jaw said the exercise is a collaborative activity between NARI and Africa Rice Centre. She stated that the initiative is a rice production activity sponsored by JAPAN under its “Stress Tolerance Rice for Africa and South Asia -STRASA project.
She explained that the production task force was established in 2010 when all the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) met in Benin to discuss ways and means of enhancing the development of new varieties for Africa. Madam Jaw said there are 11 improved varieties and from these 11, farmers will have to select at least three 3 varieties of their choice.
The Cereals Programme leader asserted that in their production process, the varieties are categorised into multi environment trial, participatory evaluation trial, participatory advanced trial and farmer advanced trial. She posited that they have three promising varieties, and one of the three, which is Sahel 134, is already in the hands of farmers.
The chief of Lower Fulladu West Momodou Lamin Baldeh underscored the importance of the participatory varieties selection, saying that quality seed alone is known to account for at least 10-15% increase in productivity.
He commended NARI and partners for their efforts in increasing rice production and productivity in the country. He said the government of the Gambia recognizes the importance of agriculture in achieving food security and improving the wellbeing of the population.
The National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) farmer manager Momodou Sambou presented the trial varieties.