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Beefing up the agricultural sector

Jul 13, 2015, 9:55 AM

Farmers in the country have got a helping hand from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) office in The Gambia, through a project that seeks to restore and reinforce the livelihoods and production capacities of food insecure families through increased agricultural production.

The more than D17 million (US$436,459) worth of farming materials given to farmers in the country through the FAO is expected to address most of the agricultural needs of farmers in the country, as well as beef up productivity.

This is a strategic support for the nation, particularly the 3,200 farmers (60% female) targeted in the project said to be part of the multi-million dollar projects funded by the Central Emergency Relief Funds (CERF) of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UNOCHA.

The support consignment, handed over to the Ministry of Agriculture, included 50 metric tonnes of rice seeds, 57 metric tonnes of maize seeds, 360 metric tonnes of NPK and 275 metric tonnes of Urea fertilisers.

The FAO said this is part of its support to the Gambia government’s efforts aimed at achieving national food security, especially in realizing its Vision 2016 food self-sufficiency target.

If well-managed, the FAO consignment will lead to improved crop productivity and increased household income in the target beneficiary communities, according to the FAO representative in the country.

It is actually essential to take note of the aspect of proper management of the consignment, for the support to attain its target.

This is because, taking a leaf from the concern raised by the President of the nation on Wednesday, several agricultural projects have registered “poor performance” in sustainably uplifting the agricultural sector.

The FAO-UNOCHA-support should ‘not be business as usual’ by not achieving its desired results, which is to improve crop productivity and increase household income in the target beneficiary communities.

We can make the FAO-UNOCHA project work successfully if properly managed to reach its target. It is essential that we get the agricultural sector working productively for us to maximize agricultural revenue and let the benefits of economic growth reach the bulk of the population.

After all, the health of the agricultural sector dictates the health of all other sectors of our economy.

“Our farmers and ranchers have never faced as many problems as they do today with drought, range fires, high gas prices and an ever tightening budget on agriculture subsidies.”
Michael McCaul