By Olimatou Coker
To support agricultural value chain development and to move from subsistence to more market-oriented agriculture, the World Bank is providing The Gambia Inclusive and Resilience Agricultural Value Chain Development Project (GIRAV) an amount of 40 million US dollars for five years to SMEs.
On Thursday, a day-long inaugural awareness-raising workshop on the matching grant scheme (MGS) of the said project was held targeting small and medium enterprises and other stakeholders at Baobab resort hotel.
The objective of the project is to support the development of an inclusive and competitive agriculture value chain, focusing on smallholder farmers and agri-entrepreneurs in the project’s targeted areas.
The five-year project is also said to focus on the following priority value: rice, horticulture, cashew, poultry, and mazie.
Speaking, Abdoulie Touray, the project coordinator for the central project coordinating unit of the Ministry of Agriculture, said agriculture in the Gambia is dominated by subsistence-oriented rain-fed crops and traditional livestock production systems. Marketable surpluses are low, with a food self-sufficiency ratio of about 50 percent.
He recalled that in 2018, the total harvested area was estimated at 420,000 hectares, or about 70 percent of the country’s total arable area used, overwhelmingly under rain-fed annual crops with less than 3 percent under irrigation despite necessary water resources (Gambia River) and less than 1 percent under permanent crops. “The private sector’s contribution to agribusiness development is still low.”
“Agricultural output covers only half of the country’s domestic consumption needs, with decreasing food production per capita leading to increased food imports with the resulting risk of facing severe food security issues at both household and national levels.”
“As part of efforts aimed at addressing these and other related challenges hampering the sector and overall national development targets, the Gambia Government in close partnership with the World Bank Formulated the GIRAV Project. The World Bank has provided a grant of 40 million US dollars to the Gambia to fund the five-year project titled ‘The Gambia Inclusive and Resilient Agricultural Value Chain Development Project,’ Touray added.
He explained that the five-year project aims to support agricultural value chain development and thus help the country move from subsistence to more productive, inclusive, resilient, sustainable, and market-oriented agriculture.
According to him, this intervention will support new approaches that are required to break the vicious circle of an agriculture and agribusiness sector that has been historically locked into low productivity of small farms with limited access to market, finance, technologies as well as being largely vulnerable to climate and weakly organized value chain.
He added that the project is fully aligned with the Government’sprogrammes and development priorities as outlined in various national, regional and global development blueprints.
“The Project supports GNAIP II-FNS principles related to leveraging investment by the private sector in the agricultural value chains through the creation of conducive policy environment along with the necessary institutional and legal sufficient environment to trigger private sector development and growth.”
The project design is consistent with the GNAIP II and CPF objective of ensuring gender equality and equity by promoting youth and women’s economic independence and equitable access to economic resources.
He also said he is optimistic these activities will contribute to increased productivity and commercial access and promote women-led agribusinesses along the value chains with a long-term impact on household incomes and welfare.
“This Project is also by design intended to contribute to the achievement of the World Bank Group’s (WBG’s) twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity, as well as the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of no poverty and zero hunger by 2030. The Project is aligned with the WBG’s Covid-19 Crisis Response Approach Paper and the Resilient, Inclusive, Sustainable and Efficient (RISE) framework.”