#Article (Archive)

A Project of Hope

Feb 4, 2009, 5:58 AM

We look forward to excellent results in the coming years from the Food for Progress Initiative which has been launched recently. The project is a collaboration between the American Embassy in The Gambia, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (USDAIFAS), the GOTG's Department of State for Agriculture, and Department of State for Forestry and The Environment. The initiative designed to improve the income gained from the production and processing of cashew in The Gambia River Basin. This is extremely welcome and with proper management could yield excellent results. The best aspect of the project is that it will be beneficial at the grass roots level, empowering farmers and helping them to help themselves. This is certainly the kind of project that will set us very much further along the road to attaining food self-sufficiency.

We are not the only nation to benefit from this project. Given the high potential for cashews in the sub-region, the program will work with farmer's organizations, processors, and traders in the Casamance region of Senegal and Northern Guinea Bissau, as well as well as the South Bank of The Gambia. With luck this sub-region-wide approach will significantly increase the effectiveness of the project and yield even greater benefits.

The goal of The Gambia River Basin Cashew Value Chain Enhancement Project (CEP) is to enable 59,000 cashew farmers to maximize returns from cashew production and improve their livelihoods in the targeted regions of The Gambia, Senegal, and Guinea Bissau. This will be achieved by increasing the competitiveness of the sub-regional cashew value chain. If these goals are achieved it will mean a massive knock-on effect for us here in the Gambia and could see many people in a multitude of communities lifted out the poverty they currently find themselves in.

The benefits of CEP are anticipated to reach 60,000 direct beneficiaries and 413,000 indirect beneficiaries. Efforts will start with farmers who currently own and manage their own cashew plantations, either as a privately owned farm or as a communal holding. The poorest cashew farmers will be a priority, as will women's groups.

Well done to all those involved in the establishment and financial support of this project. We pray it will be a resounding success and improve the live not only of Gambians but of our neighbours in the sub-region as well.

"It is not to live but be healthy that makes a life."