AU expert, ARC DG call on President Jammeh

Sunday, January 25, 2009
The Gambian leader, Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, last Friday afternoon, received in audience Dr Yemi Akibamijo, chief animal resource officer of the African Bureau for Animal Resources under the African Union, and the director general of the Africa Rice Center, formerly West African Rice Development Agency (WARDA), in separate engagements at his office in State House, Banjul.

The first to have audience with the Gambian leader was Dr Yemi Akibamijo, who was accompanied to State House by Dr Marcel Nwalozie, director of programs at the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development. The visit of the AU expert was purposely to discuss the future of the International Trypanotolerance Centre (ITC), which has been hosted by The Gambia for the last 25 years.

Speaking to reporters shortly after his audience with Professor Jammeh, Dr Akibamijo said that the centre needs to be revamped so as to better perform its functions and mandates to the benefit of the beneficiary countries, having been dormant for the past years.

"What we are doing is to try to make it a vibrant one to be able to deliver on its mandate," he asserted. According to the chief animal resource officer, the Gambian leader, in response, expressed his resolve to see that the centre performs to expectation, as well as to international standards, as its name implies. This, he noted, will allow the centre to showcase what The Gambia has to offer to the whole world.

"You may know that the Ndama is actually the pride of West Africa in terms of livestock. There is no livestock or cattle breed like it, and it doesn’t exist anywhere else on the planet. So there is a lot to be showcased in terms of livestock productivity, food security, and rural economic development, amongst others. This is what the president is advocating for," he stated.

While commending the Gambian leader’s resolve to supporting the process of revamping the centre, Dr Akibamijo stated that the African Union also has an obligation to contribute something to the process. Later on in the day, Professor Jammeh received in audience Dr Papa Seck, the director general of the Africa Rice Centre (ARC), formerly West African Rice Development Agency (WARDA).

Accompanied to State House by senior officials of the Department of State for Agriculture, Dr Seck’s visit was meant to solicit the Gambian leader’s support towards the organisation of the next council of members’ meeting in September 2009, in Togo, where The Gambia is expected to assume the mantle of chairmanship for the next two years.

Speaking to reporters shortly after his audience with the Gambian leader, Dr Seck disclosed that he also had the opportunity to discuss with President Jammeh the need to grow high potential rice varieties like Nerica, in the quest for food self sufficiency. Describing Nerica variety as one of the major achievements of his organisation, the ARC director general noted with satisfaction the success registered by the Gambian leader in its production.

"I strongly believe that President Jammeh is on track as he is showing the importance of growing high potential rice varieties like Nerica," he said. He noted that Professor Jammeh had given them advice and recommendations geared towards accelerating the work of the organisation.

"If all his advice and recommendations are put into consideration, it will pay a greater dividend to the continental organisation," Dr Seck maintained. The ARC boss also told reporters that the Gambian head of state has urged them to be pragmatic in their activities and strengthen the relationship between them and the farmers. He revealed further that the president has emphasised that the time now calls for pragmatic projects in the quest to achieve food self-sufficiency.  

While describing President Jammeh as an exemplary leader whose farming activities are impressive, Dr Seck promised to visit his farms during his next visit. Reiterating Jammeh’s breakthrough in farming, Dr Papa Seck stated that the Gambian leader believes that economic development in Africa will be hard to achieve in the absence of agriculture and rural development.
Author: by Hatab Fadera