By Alhagie Sora Sheriffo Bojang, the Permanent Secretary (2) at the ministry of agriculture, said that the government of The Gambia has identified horticulture as one of the priority area for development.He said this disclosure while presiding over the official opening of a two days validation forum of the National Horticulture Sector Master Plan (NHSMP) organized by FAO, in collaboration with the agriculture ministry, recently at the Paradise Suites Hotel. The Agric Permanent Secretary 2 said horticulture is an important source of income, employment and an entry point for improving food and nutritional security in the country, especially in rural areas and among women farmers. He added that horticulture is a dynamic sub- sector of agriculture which attracts attention from government, development agencies and private sector investors. “Horticulture is very important in the socio-economic development of the country and constitutes approximately 4% of GDP and it is perhaps the key sources of rural income for the women folk,’’Mr. Bojang noted. He also said that the NHSMP will inform the National Medium Term Programme Framework of the FAO and Gambia, as well as the donor portfolio of major development partners in the horticultural sector. PS Bojang noted that the master plan will be a giant step towards the attainment of the objectives of the Gambia National Agricultural Investment Programme (GNAIP) and Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE) of the Gambia Government. He told the participants that another important part of the validation is the Farm Management Hand Book. “This document will provide technical guidance to the farming community, the extension specialists and agricultural advisers. The content of the document if properly followed and utilized will obviously improve the production and productivity of the farming community,” said PS Bojang. He urged the stakeholders and collaborating partners in the field of agriculture and natural resources to take holistic value chain approaches focusing on women and youth farmers on the production side and fostering sustainable linkages with existing national, regional and international markets for traditional horticultural products as well as less exploited segments such as floriculture or high value fruits. The Agric PS 2 said at the end of the project, MOA/DOA would have prepared a dynamic NHSMP with wide stakeholder participation and will have the support of development partners and begin to establish better conditions for investment by the public and private sectors. He said the Farm Management Hand Book has eight thematic areas namely, vegetable production, grains, legumes and oil seeds, cereals production, soil fertility, pest management, post-harvest handling processing and preservation and marketing.]]>

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