Gambia set to sign MOU with Chinese agriculture firm
By Amadou Jallow
The Government of The Gambia, and Zoeve Seed Company, an agricultural investment firm based in Chengdu, in China's Sichuan province, are closing on to seal a deal on the firm's interest to invest in agriculture in the country.
At a reviewing session of a Memorandum of Understanding, the firm shows interest to invest in the country's agriculture sector with a starting target of 1000 hectares of rice.
The Gambia-born Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) representative in Uganda, Alhagie M Jallow, introduced the company to The Gambia Government.
The vice president and minister of Women's Affairs, Her Excellency Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, led the reviewing session on Saturday at State House.
Zoeve's investment in The Gambia is expected to provide technology of high yield cultivation, post-harvesting, value chain and value-added processing crops, including rice, maize, fox tail millet and vegetables.
"We as a government, and people of The Gambia appreciate Zoeve's interest in Gambia's agriculture sector," the vice president said at the end of the reviewing session.
She noted that The Gambia and many other African rising countries are potential agricultural production nations, saying Zoeve is coming to The Gambia at a time when the timeline for President Jammeh's Vision 2016 initiative is already ringing the bell.
"President Jammeh and his government have made a lot of investment in agriculture. As a government, we will ensure that we keep to our words and that we are not found wanting in the agreement," she assured.
VP further told the Zoeve officials that Gambian farmers are hungry to work with them, saying Gambia is an investment haven with an agrarian population.
She pointed out that the aim of the government is not only to produce for local consumption but also with a surplus for export.
Cherry Shu, the head of the Zoeve delegation, promised that her company would bring high technology and high-yield crop varieties in the country to contribute to agricultural development. "Our initial target is to invest in a 1000 hectares of rice as a start. We and the government are hopeful for this and work will start by May as scheduled in the action plan," she affirmed.
Abdou Kolley, the minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, informed the Zoeve delegation that President Jammeh is a keen agricultural researcher and his government has shown political will and provided the environment for investment in agriculture.
Alhagie M Jallow, the Gambia-born FAO representative in Uganda, who brought the investors, said he realised that Vision 2016 is important to The Gambia; hence the need to bring the investors to the country.
Jallow expressed hope that Zoeve's agricultural investment in The Gambia will improve and give weight to efforts towards Vision 2016 as targeted by President Jammeh.
Zoeve Seed Company limited is a favourable seed company, which was merged up in 2011 based on sophisticated Chengdu Seed General Corporation, a 30 years' history seed company in China. The company focuses on crop, vegetable, flower seed, research and development, production, processing and marketing. It has a wide range of produce mainly with hybrid rice, maize, canola, wheat, cotton and vegetable seed.
There are more than 60 hybrid rice varieties and 10 maize varieties released by the government of China, Bangladesh and Vietnam. Zoeve Seed has also cooperated closely with famous research institutes such as China National Rice Research Institute, Rice Research Institute of Sichuan Agricultural University and other overseas research organisations to obtain the sustainable development.
Zoeve Seed established seed production based in Sichuan, Hainan, Guangxi and Xinjiang provinces. Keeping the 2500-hectare farm only for rice seed production, nearly 6,000 Mt hybrid rice seed produced by contracted farmer every year, with the processing ability for imported processing line that can achieve up to 100,000 kg per 8 hours.
Zoeve Seed has established marketing network all over China and built up the business relationship with 10 countries and regions in the world. The brand 'Fazhan', for main crop seed and the brand 'Wangjianglou' for vegetable seed both got very good reputation in the domestic market. At the moment of the Green Revolution, the company will take the team together, serve the farmer with the quality seed at the national and as well as the international level.
The Gambian government has signed a food improvement agreement with a Chinese firm in hope of achieving self-sufficiency in food next year.
The agreement was signed at the office of the Gambia's Vice- President Aja Dr Isatou Njie Saidy after an audience with the delegation from the firm based in China's western city of Chengdu.
The delegation was accompanied by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in Uganda Alagie M Jallow, who discussed investment in Gambia's agricultural sector with the vice-president.
The delegation said they intend to invest in the rice production with a pilot project of 1,000 hectares of land starting this May. They also thanked the Gambian government for its support.
Saidy said Gambia is a good place to invest in with its farmers ready to work with the Chinese firm to improve food production.