“Agricultural production is the main economic activity in The Gambia

Friday, July 20, 2018

“Agricultural production is the main economic activity in The Gambia but has declined throughout the 1990’s as a result of several factors including poor rainfall distribution, weak marketing infrastructure, lack of access to credit (especially for the youths and women) and a limited resource base,” Food and Agricultural organisation (FAO).

Today, Gambian agriculture is about to make a comeback, thanks to the efforts championed by the Adama Barrow government. We all know that agricultural production cannot be fully achieved if we only work in isolation. Our agriculture should be seen as a very valuable area by working with partners such as FAO, EU, China and the U.S. Embassy in Banjul, that’s championing biotechnology food production.

Agricultural biotechnology holds great promise to boost food production in both the developed and the developing world by reducing agricultural vulnerability to pests, viruses, and drought. It is also viewed as an important tool in the world’s quest to combat food insecurity and malnutrition.

 According to FAO, generally, Gambian agriculture has been characterised by subsistence production of food crops, comprising cereals (early millet, late millet, maize, sorghum, rice), semi intensive cash crop production (groundnut, cotton, sesame and horticulture). Farmers generally practice mixed farming, although crops account for a greater portion of the production. The agricultural sector is characterized by little diversification, mainly subsistence, rain-fed agriculture with a food self-sufficiency ration of about 50%. The crops sub-sector generates approximately 40% of the foreign exchange earnings and provides about 75% of total household income. The crop-sub-sector employs 70 percent of the labour force, and accounts for 33% of GDP of the country.

We hope to see great improvement in our agriculture after government recently announced plans to transform the entire agricultural production.

It’s good to hear when government announces that it would address the acute shortage of seeds and seedlings that affects farmers across the country. During President Barrow’s Meet the Peoples’ Tour, farmers were urged to always put in place contingency measures that would ensure they never run out of seeds as government may not be in a position to be providing seeds every year.  

FAO explains that agriculture is the key sector for investment to achieve long-term food security as well as reducing poverty levels as stated in Vision 2020 and the  MDG’s. In order to achieve these goals, the agricultural sector needs to be transformed from subsistence farming to market oriented commercial enterprises. Comparative advantages of agricultural and human resources need to be made, emphasising productivity increases and competitiveness.

“Agriculture is not crop production as popular belief holds - it’s the production of food and fiber from the world’s land and waters. Without agriculture it is not possible to have a city, stock market, banks, university, church or army. Agriculture is the foundation of civilization and any stable economy.”

Allan Savory