The NHSMP workshop was held to develop dynamic National Policy document on Horticulture Sub-Sector to address the challenges and come up with a bankable project proposal for sustainable development.
Speaking on the occasion, Madam Isatou Yaboe, on behalf of the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, said the NHSMP is premised on the Gambia National Agricultural Investment Plan 2011 - 2015 (GNAIP) and the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE).
GNAIP and PAGE are part of the medium-term strategic plan of the Government of The Gambia towards achieving the vision for the agricultural and natural resources (ANR) sector and food and nutritional security in the country, she added.
According to her, the Government of The Gambia has identified horticulture as one of the priority areas for development, adding that horticulture is an important source of income and employment and is an entry point for improving food and nutritional security in The Gambia, especially in rural areas and among women farmers.
Horticulture sector, she noted, is a dynamic sub-sector of The Gambia’s agriculture, which attracts attention from government, development agencies and private sector investors.
“Horticulture is very important in the socio-economic development of the country, as it recognizes that the sub-sector constitutes approximately 4 percent of GDP and perhaps the key source of income for the rural womenfolk,” said Madam Yaboe.
Therefore, she went on, the stakeholders and collaborating partner in agriculture and natural resources are urged to take holistic approach in focusing on women and youth farmers on production and fostering sustainable linkages with existing national, regional and international market for traditional horticultural products, as well as less exploited segment, such as floriculture or high value fruits.
Madam Sirra Njie Sanyang, speaking on behalf of FAO Country Resident Representative, said developing the horticulture master plan would enable the Government to catalyze horticultural sector development that results in improved livelihood and food security of the people of The Gambia.
“It is worth mentioning that the NHSMP is derived from the Gambia National Agricultural Investment Plan 2011 to 2015 GNAIP,” she said.
GNAIP is the medium-term strategic plan of the Government of The Gambia towards achieving the vision for the agricultural and natural resources (ANR) sector and food security in the country within the framework of the New Partnership for Africa (NEPAD) and Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), she added.
“FAO has consistently provided technical support to the ANR sector in The Gambia related to agricultural development in a broad sense through financial and technical backstopping of various agricultural and natural resources development projects including that of TCP projects,” Madam Njie Sanyang said.
The CBPP project, she added, was achieving sustainable cowpea production through training women farmers in integrated production and pest management practices in farmer field schools project among others.
“As you are all aware, in the Gambia agricultural sector, women constitute the bulk of farmers involved in vegetable and legume production, processing and marketing,” she said, adding that any capacity development initiative that targets women would significantly increase production, marketing and utilization in The Gambia.
She said further that the development of a fully financed NHSMP would assist agricultural producers and customers alike and improve the sector’s contribution to economic development and poverty alleviation.
Speaking earlier, Musa Humma, director general of the Department of Agriculture, said the purpose of the meeting was to share and discuss with key stakeholders on the development of Regional Action Plan and Resource Allocation Framework.
The master plan if executed would go a long way in addressing food and nutritional security, creating employment and improving livelihoods, he said.
Director Humma said the NHSMP would lay emphasis on a holistic value chain approach, focusing on women and youth farmers on production and fostering sustainable linkages with existing national, regional and international markets for local horticulture products and producers.