The Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), National Implementation Unit (NIU), under the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment (MOTIE), in collaboration with the International Trade Centre (ITC) on Wednesday launched the Trade Information Reference Centre (TIRC) and Cashew and Sesame Strategies developed under the Sector Competitiveness and Export Diversification Project (SCEDP).
The project, officially launched in 2012, provides specific support for the Cashew and Sesame sectors and consists of three components, namely sector development; trade information and inclusive tourism is implemented by ITC, in collaboration with MOTIE, Ministry of Agriculture and stakeholders in The Gambia.
The Export Strategies for Cashew and Sesame which provides a roadmap to drive improved competiveness and increased exports in the two sectors will diversity The Gambia's export base. Development of the strategies involved both public and private sector and civil society will enable The Gambia to develop the two sectors, while ensuring complementary and other national planning frameworks. The Trade Information Centre, located at MOTIE provides improved access to businesses and trade information service to variety of clients, specifically to those engaged in foreign trade and other government institutions interested in undertaking research. The network officially formalised with the signing of a protocol of cooperation between MOTIE and 19 other intuitions provides a national level trade information infrastructure to facilitate information-sharing, exchange and dissemination.
In her launching statement, Naffie Barry, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment informed that the sector strategies are aligned to the recommendations of the National Export Strategy, the Agriculture and Natural Resource Policy, the Gambia National Agricultural Investment Programme, the National Trade Policy and the Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS).
She revealed that a National Coordination Committee (NCC) has been established for each sector, which she noted, is a representative public and private body to coordinate, monitor and manage the implementation of the respective sector strategies. However, in order to sustain the interventions and advance the development of the sectors, there is need for support from donors, the private sector and international organisations, as well as government contributions.
PS Barry told the gathering that this is the first time the cashew and sesame sectors have a guiding document that will give better focus and structural interventions to enhance protection and productivity.
"Therefore, it is strongly believed that the contents of this sector strategies carries the collective thoughts on the challenges of the sector and the required actions that need to be taken to reach our common objectives," she stated.
Speaking earlier, the director of country programmes, Ashish Shah stated that it is important for The Gambia to be able to access both regional and global markets. As part of this project, ITC has helped to provide a clear roadmap for export diversification by assisting The Gambia to develop export strategies for two sectors, with high export potential, namely cashew and sesame. Shah further revealed that the project has provided valuable assistance to the groundnut sector, The Gambia's most dominant export commodity, through targeted capacity- building assistance in quality management.
For his part, Charles Roberge, the adviser of export strategy acknowledged that strategy and its design process offer a structured and focused approach to enhance sectoral competitiveness, while contributing to socio-economic development.
He explained that the main objective of a strategy is to contribute to higher revenues, all along the value chain by improving its overall competitiveness and performance in targeted markets. A sector development strategy, as part of a National Export Strategy or not, demonstrates a country's commitment to development.
The president of the Gambia Cashew Alliance, Momodou A. Ceesay explained that cashew is the fastest growing export crop, and is of vital importance to the socio-economic development of The Gambia. This growing cashew sector, he pointed out, has been mainly driven by its commercial viability, conducive business environment, high-level government support and a dynamic private sector, in which (CAG) members are at the forefront.
Ceesay noted that CAG is a national association of all cashew stakeholders, including farmers, processors, traders, government representatives and exporters. "It was registered as a non-profit organisation in 2020 as the apex body for the cashew industry and to further the interest of the Cashew sector in The Gambia. CAG also represents the interest of the African Cashew Alliance (ACG) in The Gambia," he informed the gathering.