with Abdoulie Dibba
This Column is devoted to monitoring and reporting on issues that are relating to food security in the Gambia as well as the interventions of Government and Non-governmental Organizations.
In part three, the seven major crops grown in The Gambia namely groundnuts, the coarse grains namely millet, maize, and sorghum, as well as rice, sesame, findo were showed and it was also stated that the agro-industry in the Gambia is limited because the vast majority of the perishable farm produce have virtually no value addition after their production and that these products are not processed, but are consumed in their primary condition.
As a result, these perishable products are often wasted, or sold at a give away price.
In addition, promotion of agro-food processing would have significant positive impact on small farm holdings as it will provide them with a ready market for their produce. It would help to promote the development of cottage industries in the rural areas which may improve the income of the farmers.
The culture of quality control has to be built in the system in order to make it efficient.
Food crop production in the Gambia would be greatly improved if there is significant investment made in the following main areas:
Agricultural inputs and marketing
- Improved land tenure system
- Soil and water management
iv)Agricultural information, education and communication
- v) Suitable crop varieties
- vi) Storage and preservation facilities (in addition, cold storage facilities for horticultural products)
vii) Access to finance and capacity building for small farm holdings
viii) Quality control system (including laboratories and human resources)
- ix) Water supply systems (e.g. bole-holes, concrete-lined wells, etc)
- x) Irrigation system
- xi) Crop management
xii) Marketing, processing and preservation facilities and techniques
xiii) Alternative energy sources that are cheap and affordable
The horticultural sector is rapidly emerging as one of the key sectors of The Gambian economy. The sector contributes about 4 percent to GOP, and employs over 65 percent of the agricultural labour force.
Horticultural production, mainly fruits and vegetables, is an important source of rural income, employment and food, thus ensuring food security and poverty alleviation. It has great potential for export and thus foreign exchange.
The sector also contributes to import substitution, and has strong linkages to tourism and agro-processing industries. Increased horticultural production further adds impetus to the diversification of the country’s export base. Various studies in The Gambia indicated that horticulture is a sector where the Gambia has a.strong comparative advantage.
Horticultural crops (vegetables and fruits) are mainly concentrated in the Western and North Bank Regions, where the climate is more favorable for horticultural production, there is an increasing urban population, and the tourist industry provide a ready market as well. Although the sector has major private sector players, it also has a large number of small-scale growers, especially women. For this reason, almost 88 percent of women farmers in The Gambia are engaged in individual or communal horticultural activities, including the growing of perennial crops.
Most vegetables are grown during the dry season (November to June) when pests and diseases are less. However, yields and quality are generally low.
There are huge investment potentials in the following main areas of the peri-urban horticultural sector which would enhance the development of the horticultural industry:
- Intensive and well organized production system/regime
- Horticultural Inputs
iii) Marketing, processing, and preservation
- iv) Horticultural information, education and communication
- Use of improved varieties, including rainy season-adapted varieties
- vi) Cold storage facilities