The Food and Agriculture Development Project (FASDEP) , a Project whose primary development goal is to reduce rural household poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition through increased agricultural production, productivity and commercialization has been launched at the Kairaba Beach Hotel on Wednesday 11th September2013. During his opening statement at the launching ceremony, the Minister of Agriculture, Solomon Owens indicated that the primary development goal of the FASDEP is to reduce rural household poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition through increased agricultural production, productivity and commercialization and said these would be achieved through three key technical components; namely:- - Improved Agriculture Infrastructure Development -Agricultural Diversification and Commercialization -Improved Approaches to National Food and Nutrition Security.
During FASDEP implementation, Minister Owens said participatory processes would be promoted to ensure ownership and sustainability of the interventions and that he is delighted that the key implementing partners and stakeholders are present. He entreated them all to seize the opportunity to make sure the project implementation arrangement is adequately discussed and well understood during this launching workshop. Minister Owens asserted that the key performance indicators for the FASDEP have been outlined in the result-based logical framework and these will include:
I) Food security for 240,000 of the target population of which 150,000 are women;
II) Increased agricultural productivity through enhanced management of existing 3000ha and development of additional 200ha under tidal irrigation;
III) 155 ha of improved horticultural schemes;
IV) Establishment of 200 fish ponds, 25 small ruminant schemes and 20 commercial plus 60 traditional poultry schemes; V) 120 agro-business enterprises established and supported with 60% women owned;
VI) 200 kilometers of farms access roads rehabilitated;
VII) 20 municipal market structures constructed with 80% being allocated to women. Minister Owens noted that the targets and outcomes anticipated at the end of the project are quite impressive and will go a long way in enhancing household food security.
However he said since the causes of Food Insecurity are complex, by itself the FASDEP is not expected to end food insecurity, but it is expected to benefit at least a couple of hundred thousand project participants in the target regions by lifting them out of the food and poverty trap that currently grips them. He stated that Climate change, population growth and rising food prices would continue to be the reality in The Gambia and globally in the foreseeable future. Therefore he said, they need to be prepared to cope and this project is one of the tools at their disposal to address these problems by improving rural livelihood and reducing risks and vulnerabilities to food insecurity.