By: Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang
The permanent Secretary Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources has said that the Agriculture Value Chain Development Project is expected to enhance the socio-economic status of beneficiaries from increased production and nutritional standards of people in the project intervention areas across the country. “The project is envisaged to positively impact the beneficiaries by increasing rice and livestock productions based on planned activities,” he said.
Permanent Secretary Lamin Jawara who was representing his Minister Lamin Dibba, make these statements during the official opening ceremony of a day’s validation workshop for the Agriculture Value Chain Development Project (AVCDP) that took place at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi. The project is being funded by the African Development Bank and implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture.
He disclosed that the negative impacts that have been identified and are associated with the implementation of the project are minimal and could be addressed by implementing the mitigation measures proposed to ensure that they pose no threat to the environment and to the communities. To ensure that potential negative impacts are addressed by the Project, Jawara stressed the need for the development of an Environment and Social Management Plan (ESMP) to take in account all relevant national environment policies and regulations.
The regulations include National Environment Management Act (NEMA 1994), Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) procedures and Guidelines (1999), EIA Regulation 2014, Strategic Environment Procedures 2016, Strategic Environment Assessment Policy (2017-2021) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) safeguard policy instruments geared towards addressing environmental problems.
According to P S Jawara, the enactment in 1994 of the NEMA Act makes it a statutory requirement for projects to undergo Environment Impact Assessment process before implementation.
The acting Executive Director of the NEA Momodou Jaama Suwareh revealed that the AVCDP is expected to enhance rice and livestock production and productivity in the country for food self-sufficiency and establishment of sustainable agric-businesses. But despite these anticipated positive outcomes, there are still numerous potential negative impacts anticipated as a result of project implementation.
On the other hand, he recounted on some of the negative impacts anticipated that includes but not limited to loss of vegetation and wildlife, possible contamination through use of chemical fertilizer, creation of conducive breeding ground for vectors and bird flu.
With the caliber of professional sitting to validate this project document, Suwareh affirmed that justice should be given to the production of a well comprehensive and guiding document that would address key socio-environmental problems that may surface during the ESMP of the project. “I therefore wish to thank the AVCDP management and team for the collaboration and trust, and the NEA team of experts for the task undertaken with dedication.” He concluded.
As the implementing Ministry, the Deputy Permanent Secretary (2) hailed that despite the classification category, it is mandatory to develop and implement an ESMP in line with the provisions of the project appraisal document. Madam Adama Ndong Njie, the deputy permanent secretary reminded that the Gambia is an agrarian society depending on agricultural land for food production for both plants and livestock and these processes include land preparation, application of inputs, intensive animal rearing practices and construction of abattoir for waste management which require environmental management considerations. She revealed that the “NEA is the Government institution with the statutory mandate for control and management of environmental issues in the Gambia. It is therefore in line to engage them in this assignment of producing the ESMP and to continue to implement the identified activities under its purview.”
Buttressing on their commitment in building and strengthening inter-institutional partnership, DPS Ndong Njie disclosed that there are currently three other projects within her Ministry (FASDEP, NEMA, GCAV) and are in partnership with the NRA for similar activities, while in the recent past another four projects (LHDP, PROGEBE, PIWAMP & WAAPP) all engaged the NEA.
“We will be on record to acknowledge the professional output of the NEA in all these engagements”, she pointed out, concluding that once the document is validated it becomes incumbent on the project management to provide the resources and organizational capacity to implement the measures therein.
AVCDP Project Director Dr. Bully Sanyang informed the gathering that the project lifespan is five-years (2016-2020) and is being managed by the CPCU of the Ministry of Agriculture, noting that the project`s goal is to contribute to increase food and nutrition security, income generation and create jobs. AVCDP will implement its rice production component in the URR while livestock (poultry & small ruminants would be implemented in URR and the rest of the country, Sanyang added.
Dr, Sanyang revealed that the project would develop 5000Ha for pump irrigation for rice production in five sites in URR, construction of 85 poultry schemes (50 in URR, 35 rest of the country), 10 life bird markets, livestock watering points (boreholes), meat stall and slaughter houses.