By Olimatou Coker
The ministry of Agriculture in partnership with the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the Central Projects Coordination Unit (CPCU), and International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) Tuesday inaugurated The Gambia’s first ever Livestock Master Plan at the International Conference Centre.
The government secured a US$26.81 million funding from the IsDB to finance a small ruminant project titled, “small ruminant production enhancement project’ (SRPEP). The four-year project is being executed by the ministry of Agriculture.
It aims to contribute to the improvement of the livelihood of rural and peri-urban communities, strengthen the productivity and resilience of production systems and stimulate entrepreneurship in the livestock sector and to reduce poverty.
The master plan will support the modernisation of the dairy sector, poultry development avenues, and processing of animal products.
In his launching statement, Vice President Muhammad BS Jallow said the plan has come at a time when the government has completed the second recovery focused National Development Plan which recognises the livestock sub sector as a prime asset.
“We recognise that the sector can create opportunities, reduce poverty through employment creation, reduce food insecurity, malnutrition, and increased income generating activities, particularly for rural households and to a larger extent folk, or from the majority of small ruminant holders,” he said.
The livestock sector, VP Jallow added, contributes significantly to the socio-economic development of The Gambia.
“The sector faces production challenges which include but not limited to lack of access to feed, disease outbreaks, limited veterinary services, low level of market linkages and lack of improved germplasm. This impacts the achievement of service and growth in domestic production to meet the rising future demand for animal sources,” he added.
According to VP Jallow, the livestock master plan is one of key deliverables of the small ruminant production enhancement project.
“It is a medium and long-term investment plan meant to enhance the provision of additional public and private investment in the livestock sector and improve livestock contributions and development goals as enshrined in the national development plan,” he added.
He said the government is committed to addressing the challenges facing the livestock sub-sectors within the agricultural sector.
Ebrima Jallow, president of Livestock Owners Association, thanked the government for the project.
“The project comes with a very good initiative and the creation of the Livestock Master Plan is welcoming idea,” he said.
The minister of Agriculture Demba Sabally said The Gambia livestock master plan will provide guidance for long term planning in the livestock sector, assist the key livestock value chains for their potential and challenges for an effective contribution to the economy.
“Areas of concentration of the study includes, the modernisation of the dairy sector, poultry development avenues and processing of animal products and also examine the status of the meat processing industry as well as the economic and financial viability of the initiative and propose feasibility strategies,” he said.
Minister Sabally said the project will also identify activities and appropriate technologies as well as best management practices, along with an implementation and procurement plan for the meat and dairy plant in the country.
“It will specifically assess existing conditions to support the establishment of a state-of-the-art Halal slaughter house in The Gambia for both domestic and export market, considering the possible construction of a modern halal meat processing plant to the ISDB financing,” he said.