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A step in the right direction

Sep 16, 2014, 10:14 AM

The Gambia government is set to launch a landmark agricultural project called the Gambia Commercial Agriculture and Value Chain Management Project (GCAV) to improve productivity and access to markets for targeted agricultural commodities of smallholder farmers in the country.

The $15.92 million project, financed through an IDA grant and credit, will move mountains in the agricultural sector as it is out to contribute directly towards improving food security by increasing production and market access for products important to domestic consumption.

The project, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, has a host of other benefits for the country and farmers, especially small-holder farmers, who need support to expand their activities and gain access to international markets for them to realize the sweat of their brow and contribute to growing the economy of The Gambia.

We view this initiative by the Gambia government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, as a step in the right direction, as, while the project is expected to generate substantial income through its commercialization drive, it would also tackle the challenge of food insecurity.

If implemented thoroughly, the project will increase food availability and food access through improved farming systems. It will also invigorate entrepreneurship and strengthen market systems.

Over the years, African countries have been finding it very difficult to balance the equation between the food commodities they import and what they export from their farming produce, all because of a snag in the governance of their agricultural system, with less attention paid to small-holder farmers, inadequate finance to support agriculture and market hurdles.

Hence, finance, policy and treating small-holders as businesses are key to sustainable agricultural growth in Africa.

According to Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa, across all sources and sizes of farmers, the total amount of financing needed if African agriculture is going to scale up to feed the continent’s expanding population is estimated at $11 billion per year, between now and 2050.

It also stated that as much as $450 billion could be needed to finance market-oriented smallholder farming. This could be a tall order for Africa, but if the real political will is there it is not insurmountable, as where there is a will there is a way.

So The Gambia has rightly taken that way, which demonstrates that there is the political will to achieve successful commercialised agriculture in the country, which will bring both food security and substantial income-generation for the country’s coffers.

The GCAV is, therefore, a project in the right direction!

Agriculture is the backbone of our economy; the health of the agricultural sector dictates the health of all other sectors of the economy.

“When all is said and done, the health of the agricultural sector dictates the health of all other sectors of the economy.”

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