RURAL WOMEN EMPOWERMENT IN AGRICULTURE PROJECT

Abdoulai G.Dibba

The Women’s Bureau, in collaboration with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), on Tuesday, 9 August Binta Jammeh-Sidibe, Dr Perpetua Katepa Kalala and Momodou Mbye Jabang2016, launched the Rural Women Empowerment in Agriculture Project (RWEAP) at the Kairaba Hotel.

In her statement at the launch, Mrs Binta Jammeh Sidibe, Director of Women’s Bureau, said it is an undisputable fact that the majority of women poultry farmers in the Gambia comprise of small scale farmers  operating under the low input  system with their capacity to improve production, productivity and to exploit the  opportunities across the value chain limited by a number of constraints. She added that key among these include inadequate access to veterinary services and quality livestock production inputs such as breeding stock, day old chicks, feed, drugs and vaccines, inadequate storage and processing facilities for value addition, poor  access to markets, low technical and entrepreneurial capacity, low climate change adaptation capacity and poor access to agribusiness/financial services.

Madam Jammeh Sidibe noted that the Rural Women Empowerment in Agriculture Project (RWEAP) therefore seeks to mitigate the constraints women poultry farmers are confronted with and with the objective to increase women’s access to quality feed for enhanced poultry production and productivity, improve technical capacity of women groups on poultry feed production.

The proposed intervention is also aligned to the priorities of the Gender and Women  Empowerment  Policy 2010-2020, Vision 2016, 2020, and 2025, Gambia Agriculture and Natural  Resource Policy, Gambia National  Agriculture Investment programme, the Beijing Platform for action, the African Union Solemn  Declaration   on  Gender  Equality  in  Africa,  the  African Women’s      Decade  2010-2020  and  National   Development   Plan (NDP) 2017-2021.

The FAO Country Representative, Dr Perpetua Katepala Kalala, in her remarks, indicated that the Government of the Gambia and the FAO have recognized that the only way to make investments in the poultry sector worthwhile and to bridge  the sector gaps and further empower women, is to invest in reducing the capital  investment in inputs, particularly feed and ensure that they have access to advisory  services from extension work at all times.

She said the proposed intervention will complement the effort of the government and other stakeholders by promoting sustained poultry production. “It will address the poultry feed constraints through establishment of women managed poultry feed mills at village level to significantly improve their income levels and create   sustainable sources of alternative livelihoods for women,” she said.

In deputizing for the deputy minister of agriculture, Momodou Mbye Jabang, CPCU Coordinator, said the Ministry of Agriculture is implementing a range of projects that are targeting women such as FASDEP, Nema and GCAV and that the CPCU is ready to collaborate and help in the coordination and management of the projects being launched and validated.

He said MOA is already engaged in putting together a new ANR policy, second generation GNAIP and Agricultural Transformation Programme along with African Development Bank. We are partnering with the FAO and the projects being launched today dovetails very well with these initiatives.

CPCU Coordinator noted that the Women in Development Project was the last project implemented across a range of sectors and it is pertinent to asked the following questions What were the positive impacts? What mistakes were made along the way? These are key issues we should pay attention to as we validate the GAMWEP.

In delivering her launch statement, Binta Gassama said the poultry sector in The  Gambia has a huge potential to contribute to national development through  household food security, poverty alleviation and diversification of  agriculture.

She noted that a sustainable and cost effective broiler and egg industry producing additional meat and eggs will result in the reduction of importation of poultry products, the local produce will be able to compete with imported goods.   “Furthermore, sustainable opportunities for income and employment creation will be opened, thereby improving food security,” she said.

So far, she said, there has been limited intervention and focus on resolving the  poultry feed problem and that the strategy of the proposed intervention is to  complement the effort of the government and promote commercial poultry  production by addressing the poultry feed problem through establishment of   women managed poultry feed mills at village level to significantly improve their   income levels and create sustainable sources of livelihoods.