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Tokyo Awards Concern Universal's Gambia is Good (GiG)

Feb 22, 2011, 11:59 AM

Project 70,804 through The Japanese Embassy in Dakar for Grants Grassroots Project (GGP)

February 14th, 2011 Olympic House, Coastal Road, Mile 7

The Gambia is Good (GiG) project, under Concern Universal has been awarded a grant of € 70,804, equivalent to about 2.6 Million GMD for the Improvement of Agricultural Environment. This lucrative initiative, according to a press release from (GiG), will in no small way enhance GiG's work to train and support local farmers with improved technological tools and systems in a bid of helping The Gambia grow. 
Gambia is Good (GiG), is a dynamic and progressive social enterprise striving to improve local farmer livelihoods since 2004. GiG works to connect poor rural farmers to the country's lucrative tourism market, increasing earnings, reducing the need for imported produce, encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit among producers and diversifying the agricultural crop base of The Gambia. 
Training, supporting and purchasing from approximately 1000 farmers, GiG is providing tangible economic and social benefits to local communities in the Western and North Bank Regions. It is not only benefiting local growers but is providing the best quality and freshest produce directly to the doorsteps of hotels and restaurants and in turn, raising the standard of quality and variety of local fruits and vegetables. To date, market linkages through GiG have resulted in payments totalling over 7.9 million dalasi directly into the hands of poor Gambian farmers for more than 500 tonnes of locally grown produce.  Supporting local producers to grow according to market demand not only results in year-round production but increases sustainable incomes of farmers supplying directly to the tourism industry. While GIG is not yet profitable and remains reliant upon donor funding, as a social enterprise, one of the goals of GiG is financial sustainability with profits being invested back into additional farmer trainings.
Financial support from donors allows GiG to continue increasing our technical support to local farmers increase their production yields. In addition, the ability to deepen GiG's engagement within the tourism market allows for increased purchases from local producers. 
A critical component to the success of Gambia is Good is its training and demonstration centre. The GiG Farm which was developed to promote and demonstrate best practice techniques for local communities is one of the leading training centres in the country for agricultural innovation and demonstration. The GiG Farm was developed through the assistance of the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) and is located on NARI land in Yundum. This unique collaboration has resulted in immense knowledge sharing between NARI and GiG with mutual benefit for the Gambia Government, Concern Universal and most importantly Gambian Farmers and is stretching the horticultural horizons of The Gambia.
Through its action research and demonstration, GiG Farm provides examples to farmers of how new as well as traditional crops can be produced in The Gambia at non-typical times of the year; thus helping farmers to maximize market opportunities. GiG's demonstration farm also showcases environmentally sustainable technology, and green farming practices so that local farmers and national NGOs have access to working examples of sustainable farming practices. The Farm has provided training for hundreds of farmers and technical agricultural trainers which have in turn taken this knowledge to rural farming areas across the country and trained even more farmers.
The support from the Japanese Embassy under its Grant for Grassroots Project (GGP) will allow for the purchase of Agro-tunnels and Nursery structures, supporting local producers increase their crop yields and reach sustainable year-round production. The tunnels, located at the demonstration farm will be maintained and farmed with local farmers as well as used in training and research activities with the collaboration with NARI and increasing the impact of a progressive and highly effect new farming systems in The Gambia. In addition the purchase of a new 5ton refrigerated truck will allow GiG to be able to collect fresh produce from even greater numbers of farmers in the North Bank, Western Region and beyond - resulting in greater quantities of locally produced fruits and vegetables purchased from Gambian farmers and supplied to the Kombo areas. 
GiG's General Manager Mr. Banky Njie says this grant from the Japanese Embassy "will enable us to escalate our programs with rural farmers, agricultural extension workers, university students, NGO's and a host of other key groups."

This innovative development model has resulted in huge success for the project as well as international recognition. 

GiG has won the following awards:

The Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award 2008, Best Project for Poverty Reduction for its work in sustainable tourism. One of ten winners of the World Business Development Awards 2008. This is the first international business awards to recognize the crucial connection between business and development in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  

Concern Universal won the 2008 UK Charity of the Year Award in the International Aid and Development Category with specific recognition of the Gambia is Good initiative.GiG and the GiG Farm yard were recognized for our work in sustainable and responsibletourism which supports local farmers with the 2010 TODO! Award.
Individuals can also make an impact, buying fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables through purchasing produce at GiG headquarters, located in the Concern Universal Office near the Fajara War Cemetery or order from our online shop, the first of it's kind in The Gambia - www.gigorder.com