By Ndey Sowe
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation, and Gambians Abroad, Dr Mamadou Tangara on Wednesday, September 6 signed the first component of a US$1.9 million grant garden project with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.
The project is intended to support rural women and youth, in order to boost vegetable production in fourteen selected communities across the country.
The project titled “enhancing vegetable production and processing for rural women and youth in The Gambia,” is being funded by the Governments of India, Brazil and South Africa through the facility for Poverty and Hunger Alleviation (IBSA Fund) under the United Nations South-South Cooperation Office to support food security and nutrition and poverty alleviation, among rural women and youth. The first component will be implemented by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare. FAO will provide technical assistance to increase the production of basic agricultural commodities for enhanced food and nutrition security.
The horticulture sub-sector forms 65% of the agricultural labour force, and provides employment for more than 43% of the total working population of the country, with small-scale vegetable production predominantly dominated by women. The sub-sector has a vast potential to support sustainable economic growth and can provide opportunities for diversification and generation of sustainable income for women, to reinforce rural household incomes. However, the sector is grappling with major challenges, including limited access to water and irrigation, while limited access to market and lack of adequate storage facilities to preserve the produce equally continue to impede growth in the sector. In addition, the project is also earmarked to promote the commercialisation, value-addition, and marketing of all horticultural produce.
The two-year project is expected to address the constraints affecting women and youth in the horticulture sub-sector within the selected communities across the country as well as boost the country’s drive for food self-sufficiency by providing jobs to deter young people from risking their lives on perilous journeys to Europe. This first component of the project amounting to US$954,915.00 (about D55,000,000.00), will support four main areas: production, value addition, marketing, monitoring and evaluation. The project was initiated and facilitated by Ambassador Lang Yabou, Permanent Secretary 1 of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2022 while serving as Ambassador and permanent representative of The Gambia to the United Nations in New York.
The signing ceremony held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was witnessed by Fatou Kinteh, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, Permanent Secretary Yabou, Kajali Sonko, Deputy Permanent Secretary Technical at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare and Dr Mustapha M Ceesay, FAO Assistant Country Representative and Head of Programmes.