The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a US$20.28 million grant to the Republic of The Gambia to help improve livelihoods of smallholder farmers with a particular attention to rural women and youth in the country, according to information sent to the Daily Observer by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs.
The financing agreement for the National Agriculture Land and Water Management Development Project was signed Thursday by Abdou Kolley, minister of Finance and Economic Affairs and Kanayo F. Nwanze, president of IFAD in Rome, Italy.
The project aims to transform the Gambian agricultural sector from simply subsistence farming to an increasingly efficient market system. It will contribute to the objectives of both the Gambia National Agricultural Investment Plan and the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE).
It will further enhance rice and vegetable production nationwide through sustainable land and water management practices to help smallholder farmers increase their incomes. It will also increase the productivity of limited farm land and support improvements to infrastructure such as water and roads. It will strengthen farmers' organizations to help commercialize their activities to boost household incomes.
Co-financed by the government of The Gambia and the Islamic Development Bank, the project will be implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture of The Gambia. About 22,000 poor rural households, including 660 young rural women and men will directly benefit from the project. With this new project, IFAD will have financed 10 programmes and projects in The Gambia for a total investment of approximately $73.9 million benefitting 149,200 households since 1982.
In The Gambia, agriculture is an important sector for the country's economy, employing over 72 per cent of the population and contributing about 30 per cent to the gross domestic product. Most Gambians living in rural areas are extremely poor and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Women in particular, who make up a large proportion of this group, lack economic opportunities and access to productive resources like credit, land, skills and services.