Agriculture remains the most important sector of our economy

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Although the lion share of the nation’s budget is invested in our national education, however, agriculture continues to be the most important sector of the economy.

According to reports, about 54% of the land area in The Gambia is good quality arable land (5,500 square kilometres), out of which about 39% (1,880 sq. km) is currently farmed by the 41,000 subsistence farmers in The Gambia.

Since the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in Africa calls for commitment by allocating at least 10 percent of our national budgetary resources to agriculture and rural development policy, The Gambia has shown that it has valued this important sector that the commitment must be fulfilled.

“I am happy to report that Gambia is among the countries that are within the target of 10% allocation as the current budget allocates 9.93% to the sector,” Speaker Mariama Jack Denton said yesterday, while addressing the joint committee meeting of the ECOWAS bloc’s parliamentarians in Banjul on Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Rural, Infrastructure, Industrial Development.

The agricultural sector is the most important sector of the Gambian economy, contributing 32% of the gross domestic product, providing employment and income for 80% of the population, and accounting for 70% of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. It remains the prime sector to raise income levels, for investments, to improve food security and reduce levels of poverty.

About 810 sq. km. (81,000 hectares) are irrigable, all in the (CRD) Central River Division (56%) and (URD) Upper River Division (44%). About 2,300 hectares of this potential area, are currently under irrigation. Crop production is quite diversified. Cash crops such as cotton and groundnuts are grown in the up-land areas and rice in lowland, riverine areas (rain-fed swamps or under irrigation) for both subsistence and cash. Other principal subsistence cereal crops grown are maize, sorghum and millet. When the sector is looked at by gender 51% are women.

“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