By Mustapha Jallow
The Ministry of Agriculture on Friday signed a three million dollars ($3 million) contract agreement with Supersonicz Financial Limited and The Gambia Teachers’ Union Islamic Cooperative Credit Union.
The signing ceremony was held at the Small Ruminant Production Enhancement Project (SRPEP) Conference Hall in Brusubi on 6th July 2021.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister for Agriculture, the Permanent Secretary for the aforesaid ministry Mr. Hassan Jallow, said the facility provided to the two microfinance institutions must be utilised as intended.
“The beneficiaries must have access to the funds with an efficient and effective mechanism of service delivery to the farmers and other operators in the small ruminant value chain. The National Livestock Owners Association (NaLOA) should also play a central role in the implementation process,” PS Jallow said.
Jallow advised both women and youths to take full advantage of this opportunity provided to them, while pointing out that the initiative is proven as the best financing mechanism to facilitate easy access to finance. He stated that the two microfinance institutions should bear in mind that the amount given to them shall be returned in full as per the contract agreement and urged them to make funds accessible to all irrespective of political and/or religious inclination.
“Project team to work closely with the microfinance institutions to ensure the target beneficiaries are reached especially given preferences to women and youths,” he added.
Mr. Jallow thanked the Islamic Development Bank for the financial and technical support throughout the process and assured his ministry’s support to ensure accountability and transparency in fostering effective management and utilization of the funds for the interest of all Gambians.
SRPEP project director, Mr Mamud Njie, said the contract signing ceremony between GTU-CCU, Supersonicz Financial Limited and the Ministry of Agriculture marks a significant milestone in the implementation of the Small Ruminant Production Enhancement Project. He said the signing ceremony completed the setting up of the project (phase 1) and to begin the implementation of phase II of the project.
Mr. Njie revealed that the two MFIs will implement this component on behalf of the project, adding the component consists of providing participatory and sharia-compatible financing for actors operating or interested in small ruminant enterprises in the regions and the Banjul peri- urban areas.
“This was necessitated from findings conducted during project appraisal and discussions with government officials and other stakeholders that access to finance was a key challenge for all agro-pastoralists and other actors operating in various livestock value chains,” he explained.
The objective of this project component, according to Njie, is to support smallholder farmers, producers, and trader groups and individuals interested to venture into small ruminant production, processing and marketing.
“Each of the selected institutions would be given USD1.5M to disburse and recover during a period of three years. And at the end of the three years, the USD 3M will be returned in whole to the Islamic Development Bank,” Njie said.
Njie noted that the two microfinance institutions were singled sourced based on their experience in Islamic finance, availability of a Management Information System (MIS) and a wide outreach in the project targeted areas.
He disclosed that those eligible for financing will include purchase of animals, feeding operations, and animal health related operations, downstream meat processes and sales by operators that are members of registered organizations and or individual traders holding trade licenses.
About 10,000 beneficiaries are targeted for this project.
Mr. Baboucar Njie, Managing Director of GTU-ICCU on behalf of the micro finance institutions, thanked the aforementioned ministry for the trust bestowed on them. He promised that they will not disappoint the country as it is a national call.