By Maimuna Sey-Jawo
The vice president of the Gambia, Dr Isatou Touray recently presided over the official launch of a 7.7 million dollar Agricultural Rice Value Chains Transformation program.
The five-year project is being funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Government of The Gambia. It being implemented in Central River Region South and North and Upper River Region, respectively.
The project is targeting over 15, 000 households and 500 young entrepreneurs across the country.
The objective is to improve farm income, rural livestock production, food nutrition and security and reduce poverty.
Dr Isatou Touray said rice sub-sector development is crucial to the economic development of The Gambia.
“As a staple food commodity in the country with annual demand of over 200, 000 metric tons with self-sufficiency rate of 17 percent between 2000 and 2018, the rice importation bill is a considerable drain on our balance of payment,” she noted.
The VP said modernising the agriculture sector is one of the cornerstones of her government’s national development blue print.
She commended the African Development Bank for creating the enabling policy environment for active participation of agribusiness entrepreneurs in general.
Ken John, representative from the African Development Bank, thanked Government through the Agriculture ministry for creating the environment for project implementation.
He said The Gambia Government continues to demonstrate interest in Agriculture development in the country. “Rice is very important for The Gambia. Statistics show that the consumption of rice per capital in Gambia is more than double in global average,” Mr John said.
He said The Gambia is blessed with abundant water and land resources that can meet challenges of rice cultivation in the country. “All what is needed is organisation, fiscal will and the support of friends of The Gambia,” he told the gathering.
The project director, Lamin Fatajo, was among the speakers at the event.