Dr Shui-Ho Cheng, Director of Taoyuan District Agricultural Research and Extension Station of the Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan, has envisaged the feasibility of a mechanised agriculture in The Gambia.
More than 75 per cent of the Gambian population derives their means of survival from agriculture, rating the sector as an area in the socio-economic development of the country.
Dr Cheng said this transformation in the country’s main production sector can only be explored if captured within the framework of bilateral cooperation between Banjul and Taipei, through the International Cooperation and Development Fund.
Dr Cheng was responding to questions from journalists last week at the Taoyuan District Agricultural Research and Extension Station in Taoyuan, which is located several kilometers in the outskirts of Taipei.
He disclosed that the station has developed new machines, including automatic system of vegetable and melon seeders, automatic system of seedling culture in greenhouse, two-rows riding-type automatic and semi-automatic vegetables transplanter, leafy vegetable hand-seeders, and green garden harvester. He said a new vegetable cleaning machine, flower bundling machine, and rod-type chemical sprayer have also been developed.
Dr Cheng informed the journalists that these machines have been already introduced and promoted to farmers, saying that the automatic system of seedling culture was demonstrated at 21 nurseries in the province.
“To reduce pollution”, he said, “a factory was designed to convert farm waste into organic compost. Its functions include cutting, grinding, stirring, piling, fermenting and vacillating”.
He told journalists that the station was established on 1 January, 1982, after the Taipei District Agricultural Improvement Station and the Hsinchu District Agricultural Improvement Station, were amalgamated.
He said the location of the site 30 hectares in the area is better for agricultural experiment and research. He noted that station’s research work covers rice improvement, dry land crops (sweet potato, leafy-vegetable, sweet corn, field corn, and fresh-pod peanut crops), vegetable improvement, floriculture, fruit crop and food processing, agricultural machinery, social and fertiliser, disease control, among others.
Commenting on research to improve rice production, the Taoyuan District Agricultural Research and Extension Station’s Director said this component seeks to improve variety and cultural practices. “For rice breeding, early maturities, high yield, with good quality are ideal characteristics in general. But varieties with middle-late maturity are suitable for one single crop a year,” he said.
Dr Cheng then elaborated: “Hsinchu 64 and Hsinchu glutinous 4 of two varieties developed and released by this station. Hsinchu 64 is not only high yield but also resistant to sheath blight, fungal diseases and longing. It also has good eating quality and erected growth habit, which is good for direct seeding culture. For the sweet rice, Hsinchu glutinous 4 of japonica type is the most popular one”.
He also described a newly released variety, Taikeng 14, as having a “high yield, good eating quality, and semi-dwarf growth habit. It suits mechanisation culture as well”.