The Ministry of Agriculture Central Project Coordinating Unit (CPCU), and other stakeholders Friday validated a project proposal, estimated at US$28M, for onward submission to donors for funding. The validation ceremony was held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi.
The multi-million dollar project of the Global Agricultural and Food Security Programme (GAFSE) is funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB). According to officials, The Gambia has made significant strides in agriculture in the past years to achieve food self-sufficiency in both rice and other crops.
Dr Babagana Ahmadu, the representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in The Gambia, expressed his institution's satisfaction with the efforts of the Gambia government in the enhancement of farmers. He stressed that eradicating extreme poverty and hunger is one of the first target goals of the MDG, saying 75% of the farming community live in the rural areas.
The share for vision development in agriculture, he went on, has declined from US$8 billion to some US$3.4 billion, saying in recent years, improvement has been seen, with African countries striving well to put their own resources in agriculture for its sustainability.
The FAO boss also stressed the urgent need for a decisive action to address the agricultural development needs, and went on to disclose that FAO has initiated a process to select countries including The Gambia to address agricultural problems. He recalled that the Gambia investment project was planned in July 2010, which was endorsed to address relevant access such as addressing the issues of agricultural problems. He said its outcome will determine the strength and successful implementation of the project.
While assuring of his office's strong commitment to ensure that the project is implemented to the letter, Dr Ahmadu equally urged stakeholders to remain rigid in the enhancement of agricultural production.
On his part, Olagoke Oladapo of the African Development Bank (AfDB) said agriculture is vital to achieving the development targets of the government. He also remarked that the target is to take the opportunity of the funding to take the agriculture sector to higher-heights.
The deputy permanent secretary, Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, Mod K Ceesay, thanked the AfDB and other stakeholders for always supporting the government of The Gambia in the enhancement of Agriculture.
Alfu Marong, the permanent secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, expressed hope that the forum will be used as an opportunity to enhance agricultural development. He acknowledged that AfDB and FAO have been in the forefront in Gambia's development strives. He also told the gathering that the government of The Gambia believes that there is no better way to improve agriculture than educating the people.
"Once the land is developed, the market availability is assured," he said, adding that it is the responsibility of all to ensure that the target of the proposal is successful and does not fall in the category of failed ones. "My Ministry is committed to working holistically with donors to ensure that progress is made on the project and even those that will precede it," he concluded.