Wednesday, March 7, 2012

IFAD US$14 million grant to improve food security and incomes of rural poor people especially youth and women in Gambia

By Mamadou Edrisa Njie

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a US$14 million grant to the Republic of the Gambia to help improve food security and incomes of smallholder producers with a particular focus on women and young people. 

An IFAD mission team, led by the Country Programme Manager for The Gambia, Mr. Moses Abukari, has completed its participatory and widely consultative visits countrywide. The team, following a request from the government, is in the country to support the government of The Gambia in developing a new agricultural project- The National Agricultural Land and Water Management Development (ALAWAMDEP).  

The overall goal of the ALAWAMDEP project is to sustainably increase food security and raise income of smallholders by improving rice and vegetable productivity through land and water management practices based on ecological and integrated value chain approach. The project is targeting all the six Agricultural Regional Directorates focusing on women and youth to enable them to participate more actively in development initiatives. 

ALAWAMDEP will build on the achievements and experiences of earlier IFAD - supported project in the same sector, including the three ongoing; Participatory Integrated Watershed Management Project (PIWAMP), Rural Finance Project (RFP) and Livestock and Horticulture Development Programme (LHDP). 

Food security is high on the political agenda in the Gambia with a strong emphasis on the agricultural sector to encourage increased food productivity and economic growth, said the Project Coordinator of Rural Finance Project (RFP), Mr. Lamin JS Fatajo who accompanied IFAD mission countrywide. He adds: "The proposed investments will solidify past and ongoing efforts of IFAD to enhance agriculture productivity, promote access to markets and stimulate overall economic growth."

According to him, the project’s strategic approach is in line with the goals and objectives of the recently approved Gambia National Agricultural Investment Plan (GNAIP)-2011-2015. To achieve these results in the near future, he said the new project ALAWAMDEP is being designed to expand the adoption of appropriate technologies generated from IFAD’s past and current investments in The Gambia’s on land and natural resource management in key geographic areas and developing and strengthening access to markets.

Towards the end of the field mission, a national stakeholder workshop was organised to initially agree on the general approach and proposed key interventions in line with farmers and government priorities. It was held at the Ocean Bay Hotel on 3 March 2012 and brought together more than 70 participants comprising the IFAD mission team, UN Agencies, government officials, Farmer organisations, Youth Groups, NGOs, ongoing donors’ projects, among others. The workshop was organised to complete the consultative process in the design of the new project ALAWAMDEP.

In his introductory remarks, Mr. Noah Kujabi, Acting Projects Coordinator of the Central Projects Coordinating Unit, says this is the first project being developed in the framework of The Gambia National Agricultural and Investment Plan better known as GNAIP which aims at contributing to increasing food and nutrition security and also economic development of The Gambia.

The ALAWAMDEP project IFAD in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture is 'timely and commendable' says Madam Ada Gaye Permanent Secretary Ministry of Agriculture speaking on behalf of the Honourable Minister, Solomon Owens. The grant project, PS Gaye added, will also look into the effectiveness of agricultural research institutions in an integrated system. She also anticipated that the project will make emphasis on community empowerment. The intensification of small scale farms is one of the most important tools in Agricultural development noting that these farms have the potentials to offer greater impact on alleviating poverty, hunger and unemployment especially among women and youth.

Making a joint PowerPoint presentation by the design support team, Moses Abukari, IFAD’s Country Programme Manager for the Gambia, gave background information about IFAD operations in The Gambia. He outlined the major components of the new project on watershed management and income generating activities through integration of women and youth in the value chain. The ALAWAMDEP will continue to emphasize the importance of strengthening farmers’ and community-based organizations and forming strategic partnerships with donors, the Government, NGOs and civil society organizations. The new IFAD-supported project- ALAWAMDEP is expected to start early 2013.

IFAD has financed nine programmes and projects in The Gambia since 1982, investing a total of US$53.6 million, out of total investment of US $132 million and directly benefiting almost 120,000 rural households. Through loans and grants, the organization helps consolidate high-impact complementary activities such as rural financial services, community-initiated self-help, lowlands rice development, and horticulture and livestock development nationwide. The activities target poor rural people, especially women and young people.

IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency based in Rome, Italy and provides loans and grants for agricultural and rural development programmes and projects. IFAD works with poor rural people to enable them to grow and sell more food, increase their incomes and determine the direction of their own lives. Established in 1977 and from that year to date, it has invested US $12.0 billion in 860 projects and programmes that have reached some 370 million poor rural people.

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