OVER D800 MILLION AGRIC PROJECT LAUNCHED IN THREE REGIONS

Abdoulie G.Dibba

The Gambia Commercial Agriculture and Value Chain (GCAV) Project financedAGRIC PROJECT through a combination of World Bank Credit and Loan as well as Gambia Government contribution totaling US$19.27 million was launched in North Bank, Central River and West Coast Region on the 15th, 16th and 18th of November 2014, respectively.

The events were attended by farmers, National Assembly Members, district chiefs, agricultural project coordinators and representatives of the National Farmers Platform and other agric ministry officials.

Governors of the three beneficiary regions namely Lamin Queen Jammeh (NBR), Omar Khan (CRR) and Bakary Saibo Sanneh, deputizing the West Coast governor gave welcoming remarks and assured the project coordinator of GCAV, World Bank and the Gambia government that they are ready and committed to lead the ‘stop rice and vegetables importation campaigns.’

The regional governors noted that the launching of the GCAV in their areas is yet another development initiative that aims to improve production, productivity and access to markets for targeted agricultural commodities for small scale farmers. They also pledged their support for the Project and called on those participating in the implementation to ensure that the incomes of the Gambian farmers become better during and at the end of the project.

They also acknowledged the massive losses experienced at various stages of the value chain of vegetable, fruits, especially mango and rice production and also look forward to this project aim at supporting farmers to reduce these pre and post harvest losses. They noted that the losses occur due to several factors such as the poorly planned cropping calendars that lead to market surplus, lack of market information and strategies, incorrect application of pest control methods, weak skills for processing and storage, among others.

The regional governors assured that they will be working with the technical department of the Department of Agriculture (DOA) and NARI to ensure that the investments are never regretted.

Presenting on the project description, Falalo Touray, the GCAV Coordinator, said the Project is financed through a combination of World Bank Credit and Loan as well as Gambia Government contribution totaling US$19.27 million equivalent to about D800,000,000 (Eight hundred million Dalasi).

He said 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.

Mr. Touray said the project will support the realisation of the following targets, namely the rehabilitation of 2500ha of existing tidal irrigation schemes for intensive rice cultivation around CRR (North and South);

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; Increase yield per hectare to 4 tons for rice and 25tons for vegetables in project areas; At least three medium to large scale processing plants for mango, vegetable and rice milling or preservation plants and the support of 300 young entrepreneurs to establish off-farm Small and Medium Scale.

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.