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New IFAD Project to boost incomes for Gambia Rural Farmers

Mar 7, 2012, 2:17 PM | Article By: Abdou Rahman Sallah

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) mission team led by its Country Programme Manager for The Gambia, Mr. Moses Abukari, has completed its countrywide participatory and consultative visits.

The team, following a request from the government, is in the country to support the Government of The Gambia in developing a new agricultural project - The National Agricultural Land and Water Management Development (ALAWAMDEP) - with the overall goal to sustainably increase food security and raise income of small holder farmers, especially women and youth.

The main objective of the ALAWAMDEP project is to improve rice and vegetable productivity through land and water management practices taking into account the value chain across the country.

Lamin J.S, Fatajo Project Coordinator of Rural Finance Project (RFP), who accompanied IFAD mission countrywide stated that the proposed investments will solidify past and ongoing efforts of IFAD to enhance agriculture productivity, promote access to markets and stimulate overall economic growth.

To him, the project’s strategic approach is in line with the goals and objectives of the recently approved Gambia National Agricultural Investment Plan (GNAIP)-2011-2015.

To achieve these results, he said, the new project ALAWAMDEP is being designed to expand the adoption of appropriate technologies generated from IFAD’s past and current investments in The Gambia’s land and natural resource management in key geographic areas and developing and strengthening access to markets.

Fatajo noted that the ALAWAMDEP project will focus on expansion of farming systems principally for rice and off-season production of vegetables and land improvement techniques, access to small-scale irrigation technologies and to market as well as strengthening the capacities of rural producers to take advantage of opportunities from value chain activities.

He pointed out that a key target in these overall consultations is the involvement of farmer organizations, that the Project will be developed to extend productive activities to youth and women’s groups that will enable them to participate more actively in development initiatives.

Noah Kujabi, Acting-Project Coordinator of the Central Project Coordination Unit, says this is the first project of its kind responding to all the call to implement The Gambia National Agricultural and Investment Plan (GNAIP), aimed at increasing agricultural production and productivity to increase food and nutrition security of Gambian farmers.

The ALAWAMDEP project of IFAD, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, is ‘timely and commendable’ says Madam Ada Gaye, permanent secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, speaking on behalf of the Honourable Minister.

“The ALAWAAMDEP project is here of the approval of the GNAIP aligned with the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment- PAGE for 2012-2015 which seeks to increase agriculture and natural resources sector’s contribution to national development by rising productivity, enhance growth and alleviate poverty,” said PS Gaye.

The transformation of agriculture to more modern and science-based production system has become imperative, thus the need to build capacity to support and transform in terms of productivity for national economic development, explained PS Gaye.

The intensification of small scale farms is one of the most important tools in agricultural development, noting that these farms have the potentials to offer greater impact on alleviating poverty, hunger and unemployment.

Moses Abukari, Country Programme Manager of IFAD, gave background information about IFAD, saying that IFAD works with poor rural people to enable them to grow and sell more food, increase their incomes and determine the direction of their own lives.

IFAD, he said, is an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency based in Rome, Italy, and provides loans and grants for agricultural and rural development programmes and projects.

According to Moses, ALAWAMDEP will build on the achievements and experiences of earlier IFAD -supported project in the same sector, including the three ongoing Participatory Integrated Watershed Management Project (PIWAMP), the Rural Finance Project (RFP) and Livestock and Horticulture Development Programme (LHDP).

IFAD started operations in The Gambia in 1982 and has financed nine projects and programmes totalling US$53.6 million (GMB 1.6bn, 41 %) out of total cost of US $132 million; benefiting more than 120 000 households in rural areas.

According to him, IFAD also supported VISACAs, women kafoos, vegetable gardeners’, and those involved in rearing small ruminants, lowland rice, upland conservation, livestock watering points, inter village access roads, community woodlot, and biogas in partnership with the Government of The Gambia.