By Amie Sanneh
The Gambia Government through the Ministry of Trade, Industry, regional Integration and Employment (MOTIE) on 18 June 2014 launched The Gambia Cashew and Sesame Sectors Development and Export Strategy 2014 to 2019 at a ceremony held at the Trade Ministry in Banjul. The launching also witnessed the inauguration of its National Coordinating Committee.
In her launching statement, the Permanent Secretary at the Trade Ministry, Naffie Barry said the completion of the Sector Strategies is an important milestone in the implementation of the Sector Competitiveness and Export Diversification Project, a Tier 2 Project that was approved by the EIF Board in 2012. The development of the strategy documents, she said, took a value chain approach which involved a value chain analysis and diagnoses of the sector, defined strategic orientation and developed detailed plan of action with clear objectives.
PS. Barry said for the first time the Cashew and Sesame sectors have a guiding document that will give better focus and structured interventions to enhance production and productivity to increase exports. “Therefore it is strongly believed that the contents of these sector strategies carry the collective thoughts on the challenges of the sector and the required actions that need to be taken to reach our common objectives,” she said.
The Trade PS noted that the documents are aligned to the recommendations of the National Export Strategy, the Agriculture and Natural Resource Policy, The Gambia National Investment Programme, the National Trade Policy and the Diagnostic Trade Integration (DTIS).
She further said a National Coordination Committee (NCC) has been established for each sector which is a representative public and private body to coordinate, monitor and manage the implementation of the respective sector strategies. In order to sustain the interventions and advance the development of the sectors, she added, there is need for support from donors, the private sector and international organisations as well as government contributions.
Delivering a presentation of strategies and the strategy management structures, the Export Strategy Adviser from the International Trade Centre (ITC), Charles Roberge, described the strategy as a road map that offers a coherent, structured and targeted approach to trade development. This, he said, enables a country to strategically allocate scarce resources to generate trade performance. He said the main objective of the strategy is to contribute to higher revenues all along the value chain by improving its overall competitiveness and performance in targeted markets. The country’s strategies, he added, contain realistic and measurable plans of actions that define the actions to be implemented to stimulate the sector’s growth.
For his part, Momodou A. Ceesay, the President of the Cashew Alliance of the Gambia (CGA), said cashew is the fastest growing export crop and is of vital importance to the socio economic development of the Gambia.
“This growing Cashew Sector has been mainly driven by its commercial viability, conducive business environment, high level government support and a dynamic private sector in which the Cashew Alliance of the Gambia (CAG) members are at the forefront,” said the CGA President.
Mr. Ceesay finally expressed hope that these strategies when implemented will contribute positively to the rapid development of a sustainable Cashew Sector that would enhance export competitiveness, raise rural income and reduce poverty.