By: Kebba AF Touray
The Ministry of Agriculture with funding from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), launched a twenty-six million US dollars agricultural project on Monday October 14th 2019 at a local hotel in Senegambia.
The launching which was attended by various Cabinet Ministers and Government officials including civil society organizations and farmers among others, is the biggest livestock project for the country and aims to reach out to 30, 000 households across most regions of the country.
The Minister of Agriculture Amie Fabureh, said the project is for small ruminant production and enchantment; that this is because the livestock sub-sector is critical and vital for the overall economic growth of the country and in meeting its food security goals.
She said: “It provides employment especially in rural areas and contributes about 8% of the national GDP. Meanwhile, most of the livestock producers live in rural areas raising mainly cattle, sheep and goats under rain-fed mixed farming and traditional extensive production system, along with backyard poultry production”.
She said the livestock sector has the potential to reduce poverty and enhance food security as the sector has long been treated as an appendage only to crop production with both policymakers and development partners by giving priority to staple crops over high-value agricultural processes such as fruits, vegetables and animal feed; that the small ruminant production and enchantment is a four year project and will be financed through a two-step finance approach and consists of four major components. She said the first is the improvement of small ruminant production, processing and marketing and the second is access to Islamic Financing and support to capacity building; that the third is a Master Plan Development for livestock value chains and the forth is on project management and coordination; that the total project cost is USD26.81 Million.
According to Minister Fabureh, the development objectives is to contribute to the improvement of the livelihood of pastoral communities in the Gambia, by strengthening the productivity and resilience of rural communities as well as to stimulate business entrepreneurship on the Livestock sector.
“The focus is on enhancing small ruminant development through herd health support mechanism, increasing productivity through genetic improvement and improved feed system, production and marketing management, innovation of portion processing techniques and access to Islamic financing. The project will be implemented in 39 districts of all the regions of the country and the Project is expected to reach more than 30,000 households that are engaged in small ruminant production and the successful modernization of their operation through access to finance and new technologies,” she said.
She opined that they envisaged that the impact of the above intervention will not only strengthen the livestock sector in the Gambia but reduce poverty and hunger for hundreds of thousands of rural households that rely mainly on livestock for sustaining their livelihood.