US$19.27 MILLION AGRIC PROJECT LAUNCHED

Abdoulie G. Dibba

The Gambia Commercial Agriculture and Value Chain Project financed Kebba S TourayUS$19.27 MILLION AGRIC PROJECT LAUNCHEDthrough a combination of World Bank Credit and Loan as well as Gambia Government contribution totaling US$19.27 million was launched on Tuesday, 16th September 2014 at the Kairaba beach hotel.

According to the organisers, the project will primarily support two value chains: namely rice and horticulture (particularly vegetables) for which accessible markets exist and productivity gains are achievable through adoption of proven technologies. In addition, mango will be supported, with focus on increasing domestic processing and post harvest handling to reduce losses. Rice and vegetables have been identified as priority crops given their potential to achieve both commercial and social development objectives.

The organisers pointed out that the project is consistent with the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE), Vision 2020, the Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy and Vision 2016 and that it is also aligned to the Gambia National Agricultural Investment Programme (GNAIP).

GCAV will focus primarily on three GNAIP’s program areas:

  1. Improved agricultural Land and Water management (Program one). The project will contribute 2,500 hectares of tidal irrigation schemes for rice cultivation and 100 hectares for vegetable production. Development of Agricultural Chains and Market Promotion (Program three).

The Project aims to enhance commodity market development aimed at transforming the agricultural sector from a traditional subsistence economy to a modern market oriented commercial sector with well integrated food chains and a viable agro-processing private sector.

GNAIP Coordination (Program six) for effective management and coordination of GNAIP implementation.

The Project’s higher level objective is to contribute directly towards improving food and nutrition security consistent with government’s policy objectives of increasing production and market access for products important to domestic consumption. Specifically, the project Development Objective (PDO) is to improve productivity and access to markets of targeted agricultural commodities for smallholders in the Project areas. The PDO will be achieved by:

  1. Rehabilitating irrigation infrastructure to enhance the resilience of agricultural production systems to climate change induced weather shocks in selected areas;
  2. Enhancing private sector participation and investment in the selected agriculture value chains.

III. Rehabilitating/building commercial post harvest infrastructure to facilitate processing and marketing of agricultural products;

  1. Strengthening of the technical, institutional, managerial and marketing capacities of smallholders and their organizations, as well as other stakeholders involved in agricultural production and value chains, to more effectively operate in a market-driven environment; and
  2. Providing institutional-strengthening support to improve the governance of GNAIP

The project will support the realisation of the following targets:

The rehabilitation of 2500ha of existing tidal irrigation schemes for intensive rice cultivation around CRR (North and South)

  1. The equipment for 100ha of women community vegetable gardens schemes with modern irrigation facilities (borehole, complete solar-water pumping system, drip irrigation system, overhead galvanized tank, and fencing) in WCR and NBR, and the promotion of improved household nutrition.
  2. Increase yield per hectare to 4 tons for rice and 25tons for vegetables in project areas.

III. At least three medium to large scale processing plants; mango processing, rice milling and vegetable processing or preservation plants

IV Support 300 young entrepreneurs to establish off-farm Small and Medium Scale

In his launching statement on behalf of the President, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Kebbe Satou Touray, noted that the project is in addition to ongoing projects in the agricultural sector two of which are funded by the World Bank to the tune of over 31 million Dollars.

He pointed out that this is within the wider funding of 18 agricultural projects with a total funding of US $186,611,560 (One hundred and eighty-six million, six hundred and eleven thousand, five hundred and sixty Dollars) since 1994.

According to him, this does not include other projects across other sectors by different development partners of the country.

He asserted that the Project Development Objective (PDO) is to improve productivity and access to markets of targeted agricultural commodities for smallholders in the Project areas.

To achieve this, he said, the project will support targeted investments to remove critical constraints, improve productivity and build organizational and institutional capacities, both private and public along the value chain of targeted commodities.