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Towards rice value chain!

Feb 27, 2020, 1:03 PM

It is great news to learn that our lawmakers approved a financing agreement to the tune of US$29, 800,000.00 signed between The Gambia government, Islamic Development Bank and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA). The money is earmarked for the financing of the regional rice value chain development project in The Gambia. The projects seek to boost clean rice production, reduce rice importation and thereby improve the nutritional status of the growing population.

Agriculture is key to sustaining any nation’s economy. It is the perfect channel to food security and food self-sufficiency. It is the foundation upon which all other developments are built.

The confidence of our lawmakers in our ability to become a food self-sufficient nation is indeed realistic, coming at a time when many of our youths are losing their lives on the oceans, in desperate attempts to go in search of greener pastures in Europe. We have to boost the confidence of our youths that they can make it here in the country. This will in turn make agriculture a profitable enterprise among them instead of embarking on the perilous sea journey to the west.

What is more alluring is that the project will pave the way for mass participation in rice production processes through community agreements that are endorsed by government. Strengthening farmers’ organisations in that regard is key and so they would serve as the entry point to reach farmers and to provide services and manage machinery in a sustainable manner.

The 2007 global food price crisis has prompted many countries around the world to take a new approach and employ new mechanisms in making agriculture an enterprising and sustainable sector. And countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East have moved towards self-sufficiency in response to the crisis, either by boosting agricultural production at home through subsidies and import tariffs or employing new approaches just to provide enough food for their people.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations forecasts that global trade of food staples will surge to 300M tonnes by 2050, up from the current 135M tonnes.

Therefore, trump up the former regime’s popular adage; let’s eat what we grow and grow what we eat.

‘‘Rice  production  in  Sub-Saharan  Africa  (SSA)  is  dominated  by  subsistence,  smallholder farmers who have limited access  to markets, no equipment other than hand-held tools and limited use of inputs.’’