By Tabora Bojang
Senegal has become The Gambia’s most important trading partner, according to the governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia.
“We want to sustain an increase in production of vegetables so that we don’t import vegetables from Senegal or Holland. Right now our most important trading partner is Senegal. Most of the things we consume here, from cement to iron rods and even vegetables, are imported from Senegal. What that tells us is that the exchange rate of the dalasi against the CFA franc will go up. The dalasi will depreciate while the CFA franc will appreciate because we have to buy CFA as the legal tender of Senegal to purchase goods there,” Buah Saidy told journalists at the Monetary Policy Committee press briefing on Wednesday.
The governor was speaking in response to questions on what plans the bank had to improve the country’s on-going balance of payments constraints, high reliance on imported food and overall economic growth.
He explained that one way the country can improve on its balance of payment and enhance its food self-sufficiency is to produce locally made products that can be sold to generate foreign currency and also improve on the quality of our services like tourism.
The governor disclosed that the bank will henceforth participate in the economic development of The Gambia and has already disbursed D15 million to the Ministry of Gender to help women gardeners access finance at low interest rates to grow more vegetables.
“This will help us to be self-sustaining in food production and reduce our imports. The quantity of onions produced this year is impressive. We are also working to sign an MoU with the army. They have about 1,000 hectares of land, so we will assist them with resources to grow rice, vegetables and produce poultry. For us this is just a start and we are hoping that as we move, we can get an agricultural battalion that will focus on producing agricultural commodities and they will help in boosting food production and we will be able to feed ourselves,” Governor Saidy disclosed.
He revealed that under the arrangement, CBG would partner with the Afreximbank to create a subsidiary company that will oversee the lease of agricultural equipment to the army and other private farmers to help in the bid to mechanise our agricultural sector.
“We are also working with farmers in the regions. And recently, some CBG staff went round the country and spoke to some district chiefs so that we can have vast areas of lands which we will lease to farmers,” Governor Saidy revealed.