|Gambian Negotiators, Rome|
The negotiation, according to the team leader, went "quite well" noting that the background work was done during and after the design phase which lasted over eight months. These consultations were participatory and highly productive.
The delegation comprises of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, the Deputy Permanent Secretary, International Cooperation, Ministry of Finance and Economic Affaires, the project coordinators of the three IFAD supported Projects- Rural Finance Project, The Participatory Integrated Watershed Management Project, Livestock and Horticulture Development Project, the Attorney Generals Chambers and a representative of the Farmer Organisations.
The Nema project overall goal is to sustainably increase food security and raise income of smallholders by improving rice and vegetable production through land and water management practices based on ecological and integrated value chain approach, said Ceesay, in an interview with local journalists on Friday in his office in Banjul.
He went on, the appraisal mission led by Moses Abukari for the eight months period gave both the government and IFAD the opportunity to identify key components of the project.
" We were basically in Rome, to " fine tune" some of what we have already agreed on at the appraisal stage of the project" adding that at the negotiation, both parties find it tough as partners and colleagues to convince each other but was quick to say that at the end of the day they reached mutual agreement.
According to him, the Nema project is one of the biggest project interventions of IFAD in The Gambia noting that US $ 34 million is not a small project.
He noted that since 1982 to date, IFAD has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars to finance projects either by loans or grants.
" Honestly, IFAD is one of our most reliable and beneficial partners, and their intervention areas has been supporting rural farmers globally including The Gambia, indicating that the government has a strong and special relationship with IFAD".
DPS Ceesay disclosed that The Gambia depends heavily on agriculture saying that agriculture constitutes seventy percent of the employment sector particularly youth and women.
These, he went on shows how important the sector is noting that all government policies and programmers pronounced the important of the sector.
The Nema project, he said is well aligned withe with the goals and objectives of The Gambia National Agricultural Investment Plan ( GNAIP) as well as the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE).
Momodou Gassama, Project Coordinator, PIWAMP, added that the Nema project is targeting all the six regions in the country focusing on improving the income level and livelihood of rural women and youth to enable them to participate more effectively in development initiatives of the country.
According to him, the negotiations were focused on the project design report and financing agreement adding that the negotiations went "quite well".
For Fatou Samba Njai, President of Women Wing NACOFAG said that the farmers were fully involved in design of the project, while acknowledging the support IFAD has been given to Gambian farmers over the years.
Mr. Lamin Fatajo, Rural Finance Project, Lamin AD Sanyang Livestock and Horticulture Development Project and Noah Kujabi, projects Coordinator Central Projects Co-ordinating Unit all acknowledge the success of the negotiation.