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Deputies approve US$29m rice value chain project

Feb 25, 2020, 12:57 PM | Article By: Ismaila Sonko

Legislators at the National Assembly on Friday approved the sum US$29, 800,000.00 signed between The Gambia government, Islamic Development Bank and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA). The amount is for the financing of the regional rice value chain development project in The Gambia.

Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Mambury Njie, who moved the motion said the project is designed to achieve the National Development Plan (NDP) – a target of 122,000 metric tons of clean rice to meet local consumption demand for rice (i.e. 80,000 metric tons). He added that the project will reduce importation and improve nutritional status of the growing population.

According to him, it will pave the way for private sector participation in rice production processes through community agreements that are endorsed by the government. It is also to strengthen farmers’ organisations so that they will serve as the entry point to reach farmers and to provide services and manage machinery in a sustainable manner.

Finance Minister Njie said the total project cost is estimated to be $29,800,000.00. $17,300,000.00 will be financed by the Islamic Development Bank, BADEA finance $ 10,000,000.00 and the government of The Gambia would contribute $2.500,000 towards the project.

“The Islamic Development Bank financing would come in the form of installment sale in the amount of $15,000,000.00, a loan of $2,000,000.00 and a grant of $300,000.00, whereas BADEA’s financing of $10,000,000.00 would be a loan.”

Mr. Njie mentioned that the project is a rice value chain development project that will be executed within the rural areas of the Gambia targeting over 80,000 beneficiaries mainly in Upper River Region, Central River Region north and south. “It will affect several districts and villages in the respective regions.”

“The project is adopting a multi-lateral strategic approach that is derived from the national priorities, lessons learned from previous investment and sector review and analysis. Thus, this approach is based on private sector engagement, micro financing and market mechanisms,” he said.

He added that the component will focus on land improvement that could enhance rice production and productivity. “It will include land development and rehabilitation of production infrastructure and irrigation systems.”

He further added that a total of 3,265 hectares have been targeted out of which 2000 hectares will be implemented by Arab Bank for Africa Development (BADEA) as a co-financier with 1265 hectares. “The total investment cost to implement this component is $18,652.000 which accounts for 68% of the total project cost.”

He said the other component will focus on providing market infrastructure, storage and processing facilities development as well as access to roads.

“The project will be implemented by Ministry of Agriculture, as the executing agency, the existing Central projects Coordinating Unit (CPCU) will coordinate the project implementation process and it will be equipped by a loan implementation unit that includes key dedicated project team including: project coordinator, Community Officer, Agribusiness Specialist among others to serve main functions and responsibilities of this project.”