5 July 2013

Gambia: U.S.$26.6 Million Food and Agricultural Development Grant Ratified

Lawmakers at the National Assembly Tuesday unanimously considered and ratified a US$26.6M Grant Financing Agreement between the government of The Gambia and the African Development Bank (AfDB) for Food and Agriculture Sector Development Project (FASDEP).

Laid before deputies by the Finance and Economic Affairs minister, Abdou Kolley, the grant with a focus on rural households will contribute to the achievement of The Gambia's key development objectives of reducing poverty by improving food security, increasing and diversifying food production, as well as raising the income of rural producers.

"Following the finalisation of the Gambia National Agriculture Investment Programme (GNAIP), the government embarked on a resource mobilisation drive to secure the necessary funds for the successful implementation of the programme," the Finance minister told the deputies. "The Gambia's submission to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), a multilateral financing mechanism for agriculture and food security in developing countries, was received favourably. It is in this context that a Financing Agreement was signed between the government and AfDB in Marrakech, Morocco, on 28th May 2013 amounting to US$26, 600,000 for the financing of Food and Agriculture Sector Development Project (FASDEP). The AFDB is the supervising entity of GAFSP pursuant to the Transfer Agreement signed on 26th October 2010, between International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and African Development Bank," he informed the deputies.

Through this project, according to the minister, the government would implement one of the most critical pillars of the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE) agriculture strategy, by undertaking investment activities as approved by the GAFSP Steering Committee. These, he disclosed, include, improved agriculture infrastructure development and management; agricultural production, diversification and commercialisation; improved approaches to national food and nutrition security; project management and capacity building.

The Finance minister revealed that in addition to these investments, that there would be a technical assistance component to the project that would be delivered by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Seconding the motion, the Jarra West lawmaker, Hon. Njie Darboe, thanked the minister of Finance and Economic Affairs and his team for the successful negotiation, describing the grant as important to the country's development.

Darboe said soil and water management is very important, and noted that GNAIP has been doing well in constructing bridges and culverts for women and men rice farmers to have access to their rice fields. NAM Darboe seized the opportunity to suggest that the government revitalise the Department of Livestock to control the health component of their livestock in this country.

The member for Foni Kansala, Hon. Buba A. Bojang also spoke on the issue.

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