14. The agriculture sector
Madam Speaker, Honourable Members,
The Agriculture sector represents a major area of economic activity and employment in The Gambia.
It contributes about twenty-two percent to GDP and constitutes major economic activity in the country.
Of late, the sector has been pursuing its transformation agenda, with the support of development partners, to implement vital projects and activities.
Examples of the projects in progress include the Rice Value Chain Project in Sapu and the Small Ruminant Improvement Project in Yoro Berri Kunda.
Aside from drafting and validating the National Strategy for the Control and Eradication of Small Ruminant Pests, to protect our animal stock, two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) heads of cattle and fifty thousand (50,000) birds have been vaccinated.
Besides this, eight hundred and eighty-eight (888) small ruminants’ schemes have now been established.
Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, has stepped up support to farmers countrywide. This has been in the form of supply of tractors, transplanters, combined harvesters, power tillers, threshers, rice planters and milling machines to improve agricultural activities.
For the 2019-20 farming season, the National Seed Secretariat has planned to cultivate sixteen thousand (16,000) hectares of foundation seeds. In the past, a total of three hundred and sixty-five thousand, two hundred and eighty-six (365,286) people were reached for one type of support or another.
Women have been the major target in most of these interventions. With strong determination, Government will continue to prioritise women issues across the broad spectrum of our development agenda and priorities.
For better productivity, the Ministry is pursuing its goal of mechanisation, and is arranging to secure machinery and expertise to establish a fully functional Agricultural mechanisation unit.
On policy matters, the Ministry of Agriculture has revised and updated the new Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Policy (2017-2026) to replace the former 2009-2015 Policy.
Also reviewed is the first Gambia National Investment Programme. The successor programme will be validated shortly.
Madam Speaker, on the issue of feeding the nation or food self-sufficiency, let me explain that all the initiatives devised within the Agriculture sector and the support provided or solicited are part of the overall policy of Government to attain food self-sufficiency in the country.
It must be emphasised, however, that the realisation of this goal rests on all sectors, public and private, and on all citizens.
This noble goal cannot be accomplished through the formulation of a single policy framework or plan for Government alone to implement.
On the contrary, it is contained in the overall development of the nation.
15. Foreign Affairs
Madam Speaker, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Gambia maintains a policy of friendship and non-alignment with all countries, as well as strong partnerships with regional and international bodies.
Internationally, The Gambia is enjoying, once again, full membership status within the Commonwealth, while maintaining an observer status in the International Organization of the Francophonie, as endorsed by this august body.
You will recall too that at the 2018 EU-supported Conference for The Gambia held in Brussels last year, the sum of 1.45 Million Euros was pledged.
Significant EU follow-ups have ensued. One of these is support for Gambians returning from the “back way” to integrate better and find new opportunities at home.
The EU is also providing support to the security sector reform, and helping to establish a Local Democratic Control of Armed Forces Local office in The Gambia to promote international cooperation in civil-military relations. The Agreement was signed in March, 2019.
To support the country’s sustainable and inclusive growth programme, in November, 2018, the EU validated a new two-year budget support programme, with a three-year technical assistance component, summing up to Fifty-Five Million Euros (€55 Million).
At the bilateral level, the French Government is providing massive assistance to The Gambia. In particular, they are investing heavily in a rice project in the URR to contribute to food sufficiency.
Following Government’s declaration of the Diaspora as our Eighth (8th) Region, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad is devising mechanisms to establish close links with Gambians in the Diaspora.
This development will enable them to contribute more effectively to national development.
Madam Speaker, the year under review was a positive year in which we had a lots of diplomatic engagements.
There were high-level visits, and a good number of Ambassadors presented their Letters of Credence to me. Bilateral ties of friendship and cooperation were either established or renewed with countries near and far.
It was a year marked by substantial support from friends and partners. Among the most notable is the People’s Republic of China.
Their support has been remarkable in quantitative terms, and cuts across various sectors and areas of development.
As indicated earlier, the EU has proven to be very supportive in various ways.
We are grateful to all partners, friends, regional and other international organisations, and will continue to cherish and deepen the ties that exist between us.
To be continued