By Omar Bah
President Adama Barrow on Friday launched The Gambia’s first government-led smart farming project, aimed at transforming the country’s agricultural sector.
Senior government functionaries, agricultural workers, and members of the farming community were among a glittering array of high-profile guests at the groundbreaking event for the rollout of the Smart Farming Project.
The excitement over the introduction of this new system was palpable at Friday’s launch, following years of preparation.
According to the president, the inauguration of the project attested to his government’s recent policy shifts, brought about by global circumstances.
President Barrow was upbeat that the project would serve as a propellant for a decrease in youth unemployment. “It is a bold step towards food self-sufficiency and will contribute to increased GDP and foreign exchange earnings.”
“Now, in the interest of the people, our focus is on bold solutions using digital technologies in the agriculture sector. Heads of public institutions have to see this as an example of forward-thinking approaches and innovative development. Thus, our partnerships ought to be mutually beneficial and aligned with the realities of the people. In the same way, our projects should always be inclusive and multi-faceted enough to effectively solve the growing challenges of our growing youthful population,” he said.
He said his government realised how urgent it is to translate its plans into concrete action that benefit and cut across the length and breadth of the country.
“We know that the impact of our decisions will be felt countrywide,” he added.
President Barrow said his government is proud of the massive successes recorded during the last six years.
“Among them are the construction of over one thousand kilometres of roads and bridges, the unprecedented implementation of energy projects across the regions, the continuous investments in the health sector, and the numerous developments arising from our reform and restructuring agenda. Together, we can celebrate these achievements as outputs of the vision of a unified people,” he said.
With the growing uncertainty in the global economy, rising instability on the continent, increasing commodity prices around the world, the growing effects of climate change, and other striking challenges, President Barrow added: “We must, as a country, redefine our priorities, investments, and interventions”.
He commended GGC boss, Muhammed Njie, and his team on the important milestone.
The project will be implemented by the National Food Security, Processing and Marketing Corporation (NFSPMC) in partnership with TIJMS Trading International Joint Venture.
Muhammed Njie, the managing director of the NFSPMC, said: “With TIJMS Trading International, we have found a partner that believes in our vision of sustainable growth for the corporation, the farming community in The Gambia, and the entire Gambian people.
“For the corporation, this is one of many projects that we will be embarking on in the near future. Our current position has seen the strengthening of our trading arm, which has been a good price stabiliser in the market. As a commercial entity, we are in business to make a profit and to contribute to the government’s development agenda. It is, however, worthy to reiterate that, as a social enterprise, we have very unique obligations to the Gambian people that can never be ignored,” he said.
He said the development of the project came after immense scrutiny of its viability and sustainability.
“As the first of many such projects planned for the next five years, it is important to us that it succeeds in every way we have envisioned. We believe strongly that this multi-million-euro project will not only be a commercial success but will inevitably improve the capacity of our people in one of the most essential industries in modern times,” he said.
He added that with increased hunger and malnutrition, the government, through the leadership of President Barrow and with the direct support of the ministries of agriculture and finance, has demonstrated that “no effort will be held back in ensuring that our food security goals are achieved in the short and medium term.”