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Gov’t committed to improving agricultural production: Deputy Minister

Jan 20, 2016, 10:04 AM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Sheriffo Bojang, has said the completion of the project grant preparation for adapting agriculture to climate change in The Gambia, is part of government’s continued effort at sustainably improving agricultural production and productivity in the country in the face of the threat from climate change.

Agric Deputy Minister Bojang was speaking on Monday at the FAO-GEF-GOTG validation workshop on adapting agriculture to climate change in The Gambia, held at the Ocean Bay Hotel.

He said for the past decade, climate change is gradually increasing average temperature, sea level and altering the timing and amount of rainfall as well as contributing to more frequent, severe and unpredictable climate-related hazards such as droughts and floods.

Agriculture has the potential for greater levels of productivity given that only about 54 per cent of the total arable land resources of the country are under cultivation.

“Adaptation of climate change is therefore a very important component of our national agricultural development strategy,” he said.

It was in this context that the Gambia government requested for support from FAO to implement the immediate adaptation priorities in the agriculture sector identified in the National Adaptation Programme for Action (NAPA), he added.

In response to the request, he continued, FAO in partnership with relevant government ministries worked very hard to secure a grant from GEF to formulate a full-size project on “Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change” in The Gambia.

The Gambia government had identified problems of the agriculture sector while preparing the Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) policy 2009-2015, he said

Deputy Minister Bojang further pointed out that the current overarching National Policy Framework and goals for the Gambia government are captured in the Vision 2020, as well as the medium-term Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE) and its associated Gambia National Agricultural Investment Plan (GNAIP), all of which comprehensively address development needs.

The Project Preparation Grant (PPG), with a budget of US$6.28 million, is aimed at strengthening Agriculture Adaptation to Climate Change in The Gambia, which is part of government’s continuous efforts at sustainably improving agricultural production and productivity in the country, in the face of threats from climate change.

Ndey Sireng Bakurin, Executive Director of the National Environment Agency and GEF focal point, said the Global Environment Facility is a partnership for international cooperation where 183 countries work together with international institutions, civil society organisations and members of the private sector, to address global environmental issues.

The Gambia had been benefitting from various GEF funding cycles, she said, adding that the country had recorded successes in implementing environmental projects.

The project is in line with policies, including The Gambia Environmental Action Plan (GEAP) which was adopted to address pressing environmental issues.

The PPG project would continue to build on the already implemented and ongoing projects and initiatives, she continued, adding that it is expected to assist the country to become more resilient to climate change by improving its capacity to adjust in response to or in anticipation of changed conditions.

She reaffirmed NEA’s commitment to an effective and inclusive participation of all parties in the implementation of environmental projects and programmes.