The Point (Banjul)

24 December 2012

Gambia: U.S. $20.28 Million Grant to Boost Agriculture

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a US$20.28 million grant to The Gambia to help improve livelihoods of smallholder farmers, with a particular attention to rural women and youths in the country.

The financing agreement for the National Agriculture Land and Water Management Development Project was signed today by Abdou Kolley, minister for Finance and Economic Affairs, and Kanayo F. Nwanze, president of IFAD.

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.

The project will enhance rice and vegetable production nationwide through sustainable land and water management practices to help smallholder farmers increase their incomes.

The project will increase the productivity of limited farmland and support improvements to infrastructure such as water and roads. It will strengthen farmers' organizations to help commercialize their activities to boost household incomes.

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 Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment.

Co-financed by the government of The Gambia and the Islamic Development Bank, the project will be implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, and 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.

IFAD works with poor rural people to enable them to grow and sell more food, increase their incomes and determine the direction of their own lives. Since 1978, IFAD has invested almost US$14.3 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries through projects empowering about 400 million people to break out of poverty, thereby helping to create vibrant rural communities.

IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency based in Rome - the United Nations' food and agriculture hub. It is a unique partnership of 169 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

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