The project is sponsored by IRD through a ‘food for progress’ grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), under the Gambia River Basin Cashew value Chain Enhancement Project (IEP).
United States Ambassador Madam Pamela White said, in her remarks at the ceremony held in Jawneh Kunda grounds, that the USDA provides support to selected developing countries with the objective to increasing markets, promoting private sector growth and agricultural development.
The opening of the processing machine for the Jawneh family, Ambassador White believes, would promote value addition activities to cashew processing in the country especially in Brikama and it’s surroundings.
However, she advised the Jawneh family that the processing should be done with quality and efficiency in order to be competitive in the world market and also the family to sustain the business for the benefit of long term purpose.
Cashew, she noted, remains one of the key drivers of economic growth for The Gambia as a result, cashew presents Gambia with a significant opportunity to achieve several of its development goals such as agriculture.
“Cashew worldwide remain as a nutritious food which is highly valuable on the international market over the years,” said Ambassador White. The IRD program of satellite processing demands that processors follow the tenets of small business management of 100% commitment, ownership, responsibility, tracking results and also focusing on customer satisfaction.
Ambassador White explained that cashew processing business s uch as the one installed at Jawneh family in Brikama, would create employment, generate income and promote a competitive industry for Gambians.
As they installed the machines,she said they are also expecting the Jawneh family to make good use of the machines and train many other Gambians.
She spoke of the the government of The Gambia’s commitment to a liberal market policy which allow farmers to benefit from strong competition in the market.
Director of Industry, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Employment, Mr. Lamin Dampha said the setting up of four small processing plants and providing training to those managing the business is the most appropriate support that one could provide to small scale enterprises.
Dampha thanked IRD for the brilliant initiative and for coming to the aid of the Jawneh family by providing them with the machines.
The efforts of IRD, Dampha noted would enable the cashew stakeholders to harness the sector’s potential for economic growth and employment.
He urged the Jawneh family to handle the machines with great care as well as to manage the facilities so as for them- Jawneh family-to serve as a role model to others.
“With an increasing global demand for cashew with a better price, cashew production has provided an alternative source of income for the farming communities by reducing their excessive dependence on a single cash crop, which makes them very vulnerable to shocks” said Dampha.
He said that cashew export is gradually overtaken by the Gambia’s main traditional export, groundnuts. We are witnessing an unprecedented rise in cashew production and export in the past three years,” he told the gathering, as he disclosed that the intervention of IRD in cashew farmers is changing the landscape of cashew farming in the Gambia.
Encouraging value addition would not only enhance the income of farmers but would also contribute in a more sustained manner to transform agriculture through commercialization.
Country Director, IRD Mrs.Jo Anne Yeager Sallah spoke at length about IRD activities in the country, noting that IRD has been active in the effort to promote cashew production and processing in the sub-region since 2009.
The project addresses aspects such as, strengthening of cashew farmers’ association, improved marketing and promotion of entrepreneurship, promoting best production practices for high quality cashew and promoting value addition activities to bring increased income to cashew producers and processors.
She said the equipment is designed to process 85MT (Metric Tones) to process kernel each year.
She also said that it could also expand to produce 300-400 MT per year by only adding extra cutting machines.
Deputy Permanent Secretary of Agriculture, Asheme Cole, and Moise Bassene, IRD Agri-business Manager all spoke at the ceremony held at the Jawneh family compound in Birkama.