Thursday, March 18, 2010

Government, IFAD launch US $8m agric. project

NEWS BANJUL, THE GAMBIA (MB)- The Government of The Gambia in collaboration with the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) on Monday March 15, 2010 launched an US $8 million five-year livestock and horticulture development project.

The project is specifically geared towards carrying out the production, processing and marketing of livestock and horticulture products on a sustainable basis as well as building capacity through the adoption of good agricultural practices.

The project also encompasses entrepreneurship and project management that will ensure efficient and effective coordination and harmony between components, other projects as well as other implementing partners. It is expected that the project will, through the regional agricultural directors and NGOs, protect the livelihoods of Gambian youths and women in order to eradicate poverty. The programme was held at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.

In his opening remarks, the deputy minister of Agriculture, Hon. Momodou Kah outlined the commitment of The Gambian government to strengthening agriculture in their drive to attain food self sufficiency while also meeting the Vision 2020, the Millennium Development Goals and the Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme objectives.
According to Hon. Kah, government recently launched a similar peri-urban project in the Western and North Bank regions in order to support both women and youths in the cause of economic development by the promotion of livestock and horticultural activities in The Gambia and in July last year they also launched a US $6 million project supported by the African Development Bank as a follow up project to the peri-urban project.

“This is also a grant and a five-year development project, beginning barely one year after ADB and will last for one year after the end of ADB. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the African Development Bank (ADB), each contributing about US $8 million and US $6 million respectively, the government of The Gambia (GoTG) and project Beneficiaries contribute about 15 percent of the global sum. IFAD’s parallel-financing arrangements for the LHDP have been conclusive, signed and effective,” Kah said.

Hon Kah further added that the project will scale up the project activities to cover all the regions (WR, NBR, LRR, CRR-S, CRR-N AND URR).

Deputy Minister Kah also commended the donors for their support. “In government’s bid to achieve the desired national objectives of eradicating poverty and increasing national food security through self-reliance we wish to congratulate our international development partners (particularly IFAD & ADB) for providing all the necessary financial and technical support for the successful implementation of this project. Through the IFAD representatives present here today for this auspicious occasion, we would like them to express our heart-felt appreciation to the president and Board of governors of the Bank as true partners in development,” he said.

Leopold Sarr, IFAD country programme manager, said the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) pays special attention to the poor and the vulnerable and it is therefore important for the participants to note at this launching workshop that IFAD is focusing on the rural poor in order to enhance their capacities to grow and sell more food, increase incomes and eradicate poverty in line with The Gambia’s vision 2020, PRSP II and the MDGs.

According to Mr. Sarr, IFAD is supporting about 10, 400 small scale rural producers through nine (9) rural development projects costing a total of about US$54.00 million and they are working with the Government in what is a healthy relationship and have created an impact in the development of agriculture through projects that the poor rural people particularly women and youths can benefit from.

“IFAD’s country programme in The Gambia emphasizes promoting environmentally sound staple foods productions and improving access to microfinance services. This new Project (LHDP) we are about to launch today will collaborate with the two ongoing IFAD sponsored projects (Rural Finance and PIWAMP) to boost food production and increase access to markets,” he said.

Mr. Sarr further commended the Government of the Gambia for their commitment in their drive towards food self sufficiency for food security and sustainable agriculture.
“Due to the good country portfolio performance at IFAD and based on the request for funding from the government of The Gambia (GoTG), IFAD was able to make US$8.00 million available to the GoTG and the people of the Gambia as a grant. This will compliment the US$6.00 million ADB grant component,” he said.

Dr. Sait Drammeh, the director general Department of Agriculture, said his department being the main technical arm of the Ministry of Agriculture will continue to collaborate with the LHDP to achieve the goal of assisting resource poor rural growers and livestock owners, including women and the youths, to sustainably increase food security and incomes.

According to Mr. Sarr, they signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the LHDP as stated during the launching of the ADB Project in order to collaborate for the realization of a more efficient agricultural sector in the country, which will help in the drive for food security.

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