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FAO, partners validate National Horticulture Strategy

Feb 21, 2020, 2:46 PM | Article By: Fatou B Cham

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and the Ministry of Agriculture and partners, Wednesday validated the National Horticulture Strategy (2020-2024).

The Strategy, aligned to the National Development Plan goal aims to accelerate and sustain the development of Gambia’s horticulture sector in order to achieve food security, reduce poverty, create employment, generate wealth through domestic and external trade, and contribute to the socio-economic development and transformation of the country.

Momodou Mbye Jabang, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture said to realise the potential of horticulture, the government has formulated a long-term horticulture master plan to complement the efforts enshrined in the Gambia National Development Plan (NDP) 2018-2021.

“Under the third pillar of the NDP, the implementation targets horticulture as a key sub-sector for value chain development and envisages the promotion of fruits and vegetables whose potential for import substitution will be harnessed and promoted to expand their export and marketing. In turn, this will provide the opportunity to broaden and accelerate agro-industries and maximise agriculture value addition,” he stated.

Mr Jabang further stated that the horticulture master plan that was developed in 2015 provides a long-term roadmap, but a strategy was required to factor in new developments and accelerate the growth of the sector by focusing on the medium term of five years (2020-2024). He said the context under which the master plan was developed has changed significantly since 2016, and there is a need for strategy that capitalises on the changed context.

“This national horticulture sector strategy builds upon the horticulture master plan, but takes into account the realities of a new Gambia to ensure that the growth and competitiveness of the industry is catalysed in a new market-led approach and sustained for the future,” he explained.

According to him, ministry of agriculture in June 2019 requested the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations to support the formulation of the 5-year national horticulture strategy, adding that the strategy has been developed to support the realisation of Gambia’s national development plan objectives of modernising agriculture, particularly with regards to promotion of value chain development in horticulture, in a coordinated and sustained manner.

According to him, the national horticulture master plan 2015-2030 set a vision to transform the sub-sector to become sustainable, modernised, diversified, and export oriented.

Food and Agriculture Organisation country representative, Moshibudi Rampedi said validation of the Strategy will enable the government to catalyse the sector development leading to higher incomes and job creation through inclusive and efficient production systems with better market links.

“It will also help the government through diversified production, a reduction in trade barriers and access to markets, cohesive governance for the development and implementation of supporting policies, strategies and programmes,” she added.

She explained that the draft Strategy was formulated through a participatory process involving all stakeholders of the agriculture sector at local, regional, district and national adding levels and the process was supported by ministries, government departments and the civil society.

Ms. Rampedi emphasised that the horticulture sector makes important contributions to farm incomes ensuring food security and nutrition, adding that horticulture is an important source of foreign exchange earnings for a number of nations including The Gambia.