The Gambia Inclusive and Resilient Agricultural Value Chain Development Project (GIRAV) is a five-year project funded by the World Bank through a 40-million US dollars grant which is designed to help reverse this trend.
The Ministry of Agriculture is the project’s executing agency with implemention by the Central Projects Coordinating Unit (CPCU).
Component Two of the project aims at building a productive and climate-resilient agric-food system. Within the framework of this component, the project in 2022 procured climate smart seeds worth over D13 million to support food insecure farmers. The high quality seeds which included 50 metric tons of maize and 200 metric tons of rice were handed over to the Department of Agriculture on 2nd June 2022 for distribution across the country.
Beneficiaries of the intervention and senior agricultural officers as well as local authorities say the GIRAV Seed Programme has helped improved production and productivity and thus contributing to improved food security and increased income for farmers and their households.
Speaking to the national broadcaster – Gambia Radio & Television Services (GRTS) during a joint field mission with the Communication Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture (CEES) as well as at Farmer Field Days, several farmers interviewed reported a bumper harvest.
On average, the farmers explained that their 2022 produce will feed their households for at least five months. A good number of them including Dusu Fatty of Mayork West Coast Region (WCR), Muhammed Jikineh of Jarra Madina in Lower River Region (LRR), Alagie Jallow of Koboto in URR and Sherrifo Sanneh of Kerr Serign in the Kanifing Municipality say their produce will sustain their households for more than ten months.
During an interview with GRTS, Dr. Saikou Sanyany, Director General, Department of Agriculture, and three other Regional Agriculture Directors and a Senior Agriculture Officer all acknowledged with appreciation the impact of the GIRAV project Seed Programme on agricultural production and productivity.
Dr. Sanyang underscored the importance of quality seeds for the attainment of national food self-suffiency and sustainable socio-economic growth and development as envisaged in the National Development Plan and the Agenda 2030.
Momodou Lamin Darboe, Director of Agriculture for LRR noted that the GIRAV intervention as helped increase both maize and rice production by 25 percent in his region. He said: “This year, we are smiling because of the GIRAV Project”.
Mrs. Rohey Jawara of Jifin village described the GIRAV seeds aid as timely noting that they [women farmers in her community] has lost all their rice nursery to the wrong herbicide and whether wondering as to how to acquire seeds to cultivate rice. He explained that upon receiving information from the Regional Agriculture Director that they have rice seeds for distribution to interested farmers, she mobilised the women to receive the seeds and cultivated 20 hectares.
Another female farmer, Mrs Dusu Fatty of Mayork who also mobilised more than 40 women to cultivate the seeds provided by the GIRAV project reported that the chances of them producing rice during the 2022 rainy season were very slim as they lacked seeds for production.
Alhagie Yaya Jarjusey, another farmer and Chief of Jarra West District said: “The quality of their seeds is second to none. This year I cultivated two plots with it. I have already harvested and threshed one and the one in Jenoi will also be due for harvesting soon. What we need to do is to appeal to the government [the Director General of agriculture is here] to try and introduce mechanised agriculture.”