Gambia needs $83M to attain rice self-sufficiency – report

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By Omar Bah

A survey conducted by the Continental Investment Plan for accelerating Rice Self-Sufficiency in Africa (CIPRISSA), has projected that The Gambia will need an estimated D4, 116, 385, 000. 00 investments in rice production to attain rice self-sufficiency target in 2029.

This was contained in a study titled “The road to rice self-sufficiency” conducted by Africa Rice, a leading pan-African rice research organization. According to the report, The Gambia possesses the necessary agro-ecologies and natural assets (land, water and labor) which can potentially be deployed in driving its rice self-sufficiency (RSS) goal.
The experts have also urged The Gambia to use seeds instead of grains for rice production in order to meet its rice self-sufficiency target as a nation.

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However, according to the report, the plan needs the necessary commitment of the country’s political leadership in both the executive and legislative branches to enact and to judiciously implement requisite policies and follow through with them.
The report further highlighted that the country’s National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) 2015-2024 had initially projected that The Gambia would attain RSS by 2024. However, productivity had remained very low, fluctuating at between 1.19 tons/ha in 2010 and 0.85 ton/ha in 2017 thus exacerbating the yawning gap in local supply of rice.
The report also outlined that rice is the major staple crop consumed in The Gambia and that demand for the commodity has been increasing exponentially and exceeds the local production, therefore necessitating a huge expenditure of the country’s foreign exchange in securing the much needed supply of the grain through importation from external sources.
This, the report added, has continued to impact negatively on the country’s foreign reserves much of which is channeled towards rice imports.

“As rice yields decreased by 8% per annum, rice imports in the Gambia were also increasing at the rate of 4% per annum. It thus became necessary for the Government to chart another trajectory to achieving RSS, hence reducing the country’s dependence on imports of the grain,” the report reads.
The report also highlighted that the country will need to sustain an annual local production growth rate of at least 26% and that given the strategic nature of rice in the socio-economic life of Gambia, the country developed a National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) for 2015 to 2024, under the framework of the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD).

“Achieving RSS in The Gambia requires a paradigm shift to one in which the private sector plays the leading role in rice production, processing, marketing, and distribution while the public sector creates an enabling environment, in addition to ensuring the provision of such incentives as infrastructure, institutional capacity and innovations,” the report asserted.
This production level, the report added, will gradually increase the country’s RSS ratio from 0.16 in 2019 to 1.20 by 2029.

“At the current rate of demand for rice the consumers will require about 182,000 tons of the staple in 2019, whereas only about 16% of that demand could be supplied from local production. By 2029 demand for the grain will be 270,000 tons as the population burgeons. However, with consistent and additional investments made in the identified priority segments of the RVC with a view to reaching and or surpassing production growth rate of 26% the goal of RSS would be attained by 2029,” the report suggested.

The survey is aimed at providing credible information for policy and investment decision-making for the development of the rice sector in The Gambia. The study was funded by the Ministry of Agriculture of the government of The Gambia with financing from African Development Bank. The report was presented to agriculture stakeholders on Tuesday at a daylong workshop at the Baobab Holiday Resort.
This production level, the report added, will gradually increase the country’s RSS ratio from 0.16 in 2019 to 1.20 by 2029.

“At the current rate of demand for rice the consumers will require about 182,000 tons of the staple in 2019, whereas only about 16% of that demand could be supplied from local production. By 2029 demand for the grain will be 270,000 tons as the population burgeons. However, with consistent and additional investments made in the identified priority segments of the RVC with a view to reaching and or surpassing production growth rate of 26% the goal of RSS would be attained by 2029,” the report suggested.

The road to rice self-sufficiency study was conducted to provide credible information for policy and investment decision-making for the development of the Gambia’s rice sector. It was funded by the Ministry of Agriculture and the African Development Bank’s Project Preparatory Facility (PPF) project.
The report was presented to agriculture stakeholders on Tuesday at a daylong workshop at the Baobab Holiday Resort.

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