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Gambia launches Agricultural Sector M and E System

Mar 4, 2015, 10:13 AM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

Minister of Agriculture Solomon Owens Tuesday presided over the official launching of the Agriculture Sector Monitoring and Evaluation system at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.

The forum, which brought officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and various workplaces, was organised by the Central Coordinating Unit under the Ministry of Agriculture with support from IFAD through the NEMA project.

In his launching statement, Minister Owens said this achievement has come as a result of a discussion by the Gambian leader and the IFAD leadership on the need to have an M and E system for the agricultural sector.

He said IFAD took up the initiative and assisted the Ministry of Agriculture with funds to develop the M and E system under the NEMA project.

“It is a watershed moment in the history of the ministry and the sector at large to have such a robust agricultural sector monitoring and evaluation system, that will enable us to have high quality data that accurately responds to our information needs and those of our funding/development partners in a timely manner,” Minister Owens said.

The Agric-sector M and E system would benefit policymakers, project managers, project designers, planners, business partners, farmers and their organization to make evidence-based plans and decisions, he said.

“The M and E system would help them to instantly address their own information needs and those of their partners at the click of a few computer buttons,” Minister Owens added.

“It will enable us to know the number of farmers involved in a specific value chain activity, the services or inputs they have received or require, the infrastructure that we have in place and their location and purpose, the area under crops, crop production and sales data, actual livestock herd size, sales births, death and slaughters, disease incidence and many others in both crop and livestock sub-sector.”

All these would serve well the business community and traders in the agriculture sector to predict and map demand for services such as input requirements, he continued.

In addition, Minister Owens went on, the survey component of the system would enable them to quantify the benefits accruing from the efforts and investment they make in the sector.

He said the system could not have come at a better time than now, when the government policy is intensifying commercialized agricultural production.

The gathering and analysis of data that demonstrate the progress and results they are making would be central to the achievements of the Vision 2016 objectives of a food-secure Gambia, he said.

The system is designed to capture and analyze data across all the value chain segments from inputs supply to production, processing, through to marketing for all crops and livestock produce and products, he added.

In addition to providing the sector with a common means of measuring and communicating results, the Agric-sector M and Esystem would also ensure improved accountability, accurate documentation and timely sharing of results, especially against a background of a rapid increase in the diversify of funding partners and levels of investment in the agriculture sector, he stated.

According to Minister Owens, the state-of-the-art online database, the Gambia National Agricultural Database (GANAD), is a pride to the sector and the nation at large, which would allow them to access data anytime and anywhere there is internet access.

The permanent secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Ousman Jammeh, in his remarks, applauded the launching of the agricultural sector Monitoring and Evaluation System.

He said the agriculture sector is proud to be a forerunner in clearly defining its information needs, and going beyond by providing guidance in the data collection and sharing tools and processes by all implementing partners.

The launching also demonstrated that the Agric-sector is ready to lead in the implementation of Vision 2016 and ready to demonstrate the results and extent to which the vision is achieved, he added.

The design of the M and E system in general and GANAD, in particular, would enable easy migration from the paper-based collection to the tabletphone-based data collection and entry system, similar to and in line with the recentlylaunched GBoS-Tablet Mobile phone price data collection, he stated.