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FASDEP, GCAV boost Ministry of Agriculture

Oct 1, 2015, 10:39 AM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

Food and Agricultural Sector Development Project (FASDEP) and the Gambia Commercial Agriculture and Value Chain Management Project (GCAV) Wednesday handed over materials to the Ministry of Agriculture for onward distribution to various units of the ministry.

FASDEP handed over 29 motorcycles worth about US$141,375 meant to strengthen the national market information system of the Planning Service Unit of the Department of Agriculture.

It also gave a set of survey equipment procured at a total cost of US$83,594.

For GCAV, it handed over equipment such as cameras and other valuable communication items to bolster the operations of the extension and education services of the Agriculture ministry.

Speaking at the handing over ceremony, held at the Rural Finance office in Cape Point, Bakau, Kebba l. Jarju, project director FASDEP, in his overview of FASDEP, said the project is funded by the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP).

The global programme is a multilateral mechanism to assist in the implementation of pledges made by the leaders of the G8, in Pittsburgh in 2009.

The purpose of GAFSP, Mr Jarju said, is to scale up support to help developing countries reduce poverty and improve rural livelihoods and food security by increasing agricultural productivity, linking farmers to markets, reducing risk and vulnerability, improving non-farm rural livelihoods, and providing technical assistance.

He said The Gambia government submitted its funding proposal as part of the second call for proposals, and a sum of US$28 million was approved by the GAFSP Steering Committee on 23 May 2012 for the country.

Mr Jarju pointed out that FASDEP seeks to reduce rural household poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition through increased agricultural production and productivity, and commercialisation.

The main outputs of the project include increased agricultural productivity and production through enhanced management of existing 3000ha and development of additional 200ha under tidal irrigation.

Its expected outputs also include establishment of 155ha of improved horticultural schemes, 60ha of school gardens, 200 fish ponds, 25 small ruminant and 20 poultry schemes established.

FASDEP is also expected to establish and support 120 agro-business enterprises 60 per cent of which are owned by women, rehabilitate or construct 20 regional market structures, and revamp 200km of access roads.

FASDEP director said the project is be implemented over a five-year period in Lower River, Central River and West Coast regions, where poverty and food insecurity are more pronounced.

The total targeted number of beneficiaries is 240,000 in the three regions comprising 150,000 women, 60,000 youths and 30,000 men.

“This also translates into a total of 30,000 beneficiary households, representing about 42 per cent of the total households in project area and about 20 per cent of the population involved in agriculture,” Mr Jarju explained.

Receiving the items donated by FASDEP and GCAV, Permanent Secretary 2 at the Ministry of Agriculture, Sherifo Bojang, said the arrival of the materials is timely “as we are working towards the realisation of Vision 2020 blueprint”.

He noted that the motor bicycles will optimise the work of the Planning Services Unit of the Department of Agriculture in the collection and dissemination of market information on agricultural produce.

Regarding the survey equipment, PS Bojang said they are part of the support for the Soil and Water Management Services (SWMS) of the department.

The permanent secretary further handed over the items to the director-general of the Department of Agriculture, with a word of caution:“The materials must be used for the intended purpose, and users have to be very responsible in the usage of the materials.”

Sait Drammeh, director-general, Department of Agriculture, said the equipment would help in the development of agriculture and all the visions set by the Gambian leader, President Yahya Jammeh.

He thanked the minister of Agriculture for “being upfront” in looking for materials that would help modernise agricultural production in the country.

Mr Drammeh said the receipt of the motorbikes would go a long way in helping to ease the mobility constraint of the extension workers.

Dr Reymond Jatta, coordinator of CPCU, said the project has spent US$35,000 on the materials that were handed over.

He further explained that GCAV project is implemented through mainstreaming it in the main agricultural set up.

“There is capacity building of staff at the unit [CPCU] and it is believed that they are training people who could take the responsibility of making sure that these materials are managed and used for the intended purpose,” Dr Jatta said.