By Ndey Sowe
The Ministry of Agriculture and Central Project Coordinating Unit on Monday, 18th November 2019 launched the Gambia Rice Value Chain Transformation Programme (RVCTP) in The Gambia.
It is said to be a five-year programme, funded by the African Development Bank (AFDB) of The Gambia with the objective to improve farm incomes, rural livelihoods, and food and nutrition security and contribute to poverty reduction through increased commercialization of rice in the Gambia.
RVCP interventions will be in 3 regions of the Gambia namely: Central River Region- North, Central River Region- South, and Upper River Region respectively. The projective also has 3 components which include: Production and Productivity Enhancement, Agribusiness, Market and Capacity Development as well as Project Management inclusively.
The project will directly benefit about 15,000 households out of which about 40% will be youth and women, beneficiaries who will include farmers, processors, seed producers, input dealers, aggregators, private sector operators, transporters, commercial agents to name a few.
Dr. Isatou Touray Vice President of Gambia in her opening said: “Rice sub- development is crucial to the economic development of the Gambia”. She indicated that rice importation is a considerable drain on our balance of payments, given that it is a staple food commodity in the country with annual demand of over 200,000 metric tons with a self-sufficiency rate of 17% between 2000 and 2018.
She noted that Government is aware that food insecurity in the country is affected by several factors, notable among them being lack of water.
“We have over 81,000ha of irrigable land mainly in CRR and URR currently being under-exploited due to the subsistence nature of our production systems”, she said.
She added that modernizing the Agric sector is one of the cornerstones of the national development blueprint and rice production is a priority for government interventions, targeting production increase of 112,000 metric tons by 2021.
Ken Johm Representative African Development Bank (AFDB), speaking on behalf of the AfDB president said the bank has a Feed Africans strategy, saying, “we believe that Africa is to be able to feed Africans”, which he said, applies to The Gambia being able to feed Gambians.
He underscored the importance of rice in the Gambia, pointing out that statistics show that the consumption of rice per capita in the Gambia is more than double the global average.
“We continue to import over 179,000 metric tons of rice per year, while we produce only 26,000 metric tons of rice every year”, he stated.
Others at the event include the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Agriculture, Marcel Nwalozie and other stakeholders.