By: Kebba AF Touray
President Barrow said Thursday his government has formulated a policy on fertilizer that has been validated, with the objective of enhancing access to important farm inputs by beneficiaries, on a subsidised basis.
The president made this report in his address to legislators at the National Assembly in Banjul.
While dilating on the agriculture sector, the President expressed strong commitment of his government in strengthening policies and programs towards the agriculture sector. He said emerging challenges in the sector can only be addressed through new policies and initiatives, saying ‘one of such undertaking is the national fertilizer policy’.
“A national fertilizer policy has been formulated and validated, and the development of a strategic plan on this is at an advanced stage,” the President told lawmakers. He said the policy seeks to enhance fertilizer access and targets subsidiary beneficiaries for greater production, adding that in pursuit of commercial farming, the sector will promote mechanized land preparation by supplying labor-saving machines. Barrow said his government will increase investments to mechanise the harvesting of cereals and to stimulate increased mechanical threshing, as harvesting is among the least mechanised activities of the country’s agriculture sector.
Deliberating further on the sector, he said his administration is also committed to enhancing the capacity of breeders and introducing Gambian farmers to fortified, short-term and high-yielding varieties that are resistant to the adverse effects of climate change.
Using the PPP model, he said they will foster the establishment of processing companies to establish processing and production systems, with which they will be able to create employment and market value promotion. He further told Members of the Assembly that there will be an incentive-based risk sharing system for agricultural lending.
“The Ministry of Agriculture has initiated the Gambia Incentive-based Risk Sharing and Agricultural Lending Facility project (GAMIRSAL), to improve access to finance by de-risking lending in the agriculture sector,” he unveiled.
He underscored that the project will collaborate with financial institutions to avail farmers and value chain actors, the much needed finance for a transformed food system. The Lending Project and Inclusion Strategy, he said, will contribute to removing access barriers to credit for actors along the agriculture value chains, providing beneficiaries with access to credit through a risk sharing mechanism.