“Supporting Horticulture sub-sector transformation is at the core of FAO’s work in The Gambia” – Mustapha Ceesay, AFAOR in Charge of Programmes
12 August 2021, Banjul – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) today handed over an assortment of gardening inputs and tools to women farmers in Bakateh, Kerr Serign and Bakau Old Cape Point Road, through the Horticulture Technical Services Unit (HTS) under the Department of Agriculture.
FAO procured the items worth over half a million Dalasis through its Technical Cooperation Programme titled “Support to sustainable production & marketing of fishery and vegetable for Urban/Peri-urban women”.
The intervention will support the Gambia’s implementation of the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, 2021, the Decade for Action 2021 – 2030 as well as the Agenda 2030.
The Assistant FAO Representative in Charge of Programmes, Dr Mustapha Ceesay presented the items on behalf of FAO to the beneficiaries through the Department of Agriculture. Speaking at the brief handing over ceremony at the HTS Unit premises in Bakau, Ceesay explained the objective of the GMD24.7 million project is to empower women and make them sustainable producers in the fisheries and vegetable value chains while they contribute to improve their livelihoods and nutrition status.
The project is targeting women farmers in the Urban and Peri-Urban areas and forms part of FAO’s support to The Gambian Government to meet its national development targets and to support National Response to the Covid-19 pandemic. He said that the project is aimed at helping ease challenges limiting horticultural production and productivity in The Gambia. He said horticulture development is a top priority for both the Gambian Government and FAO as captured in the National Development Plan 2018 – 2021 and the FAO Gambia Programming Framework 2018 – 2021. Ceesay further reiterated FAO’s recognition of the role and contributions of women in the horticulture sector.
In his remarks, the Deputy Director General of the Department of Agriculture Mr. Sariyang Jobarteh commended FAO for what he described as a “gigantic gesture”. He advised the beneficiaries to put the items in to good use improve their livelihoods and incomes. He said, “FAO has for over four decades been consistently rendering invaluable services to The Gambia and has also continued to be our traditional and most trusted partner in the agriculture sector’.
Ms. Ramata Gigo, Director, Horticulture Technical Services, DOA and Ms. Ramatoulie Hydra Sanyang, Director of Urban Agriculture also challenged the target beneficiaries to make good use of the donation to scale up their production and productivity. They advised them to raise collective nurseries and to adapt good agronomic practices to achieve improved Food and Nutrition Security and economic empowerment. Ms. Mama Jamba of Bakoteh delivered the vote of thanks on behalf of the beneficiaries.
Horticultural crop production is recognized as a means of diversifying the productive base of the Gambian economy noting increased reliance on the country’s producers to improve the national food and nutrition security. The sub-sector currently contributes about 4% towards GDP and engages about 65% of the agricultural labour force. Despite its good potential and bright prospects, the Horticulture Value Chain faces challenges related to inputs and service provision, production, post-harvest losses, processing and marketing.
The Gambia continues to import large quantities of horticulture produce, whilst the growth of exports lags significantly behind those of neighbouring countries with similar climatic conditions. A major challenge is how to transform the sub-sector to a more market-oriented approach to boost incomes, raise export earnings and contribute to the socio-economic development.
Furthermore, The Gambia National Development Plan (2018-2021) identified horticulture as a key sub-sector for value chain development envisaging the promotion of fruits and vegetables import substitution. More should be done to improve productivity and accelerate agro-industries and value addition