IFAD to fund US$34 million project to increase food security in Gambia
|A rice field in Central River Region of the Gambia under the Ifad-funded PIWAMP project|
Officials in Banjul have described as “successful” negotiations with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on funding of a new project: the National Agricultural Land and Water Management Development (Nema).
The cost of new project is estimated at $34 million (close to D1 billion) and is expected to kick start in 2013. The Nema project, the biggest IFAD intervention in Gambia so far, is under design and planned for approval at the next IFAD Executive Board meeting. It comes at a time when another IFAD project of US$17.5 million, the Participatory Integrated Watershed Management Project (PIWAMP), is phasing-out this year.
Officials say the project is intended to increase incomes from improved productivity based on sustainable land and water management practices, and will target poor rural women and youth.
On October 28, Mr. Mod K Ceesay, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs led a nine-member delegation to Rome, Italy to negotiate with IFAD on the Nema project on behalf of the Government and people of The Gambia.
“The Nema project overall goal is to sustainably increase food security and raise income of smallholders (particularly rural women and youth) by improving rice and vegetable production through land and water management practices, Mr. Ceesay said on Nov. 9, 2012.
The negotiations went "well". The background work was done before the negotiations through an eight month intensive consultative and participatory design process, he said. The Nema design mission led by Moses Abukari, Country Programme Management, IFAD gave both the government and IFAD the opportunity to identify key components of the project which are aligned to the Gambia National Agricultural Investment Plan (GNAIP).
“We were basically in Rome, to "fine tune" some of what we have already mutually agreed on at the appraisal stage of the project. Both parties found it tough as partners and colleagues to convince each other but at the end of the day we reach mutual agreements,” said Mr. Ceesay whose negotiating team comprises Coordinators and Finance Controller of f IFAD three project in Gambia - the PIWAMP, Livestock and Horticulture Development Project (LHDP), and Rural Finance Project, ministries of Agriculture, Justice, and Finance, and a Farmer Organisation.
IFAD has financed nine programmes and projects in The Gambia since 1982, investing a total of US$53.6 million, and directly benefiting almost 120,000 rural households majority of whom are women.
Currently IFAD has funded three ongoing projects in the country, the Livestock and Horticulture Development Project of US$15.9 million approved in 2009, aims to help small-scale rural producers (mainly women) to increase their incomes by improving the yield and quality of their horticultural and livestock products.
A US$7.9 million Rural Finance Project approved in 2006 helps strengthen and consolidate existing microfinance institutions in Gambia and to enable them deliver financial services to economically active poor rural people.
While a US$17.5 million Participatory Integrated-Watershed Management Project approved in 2004 aims to empower poor communities in rural areas to undertake and maintain integrated watershed management activities, with the objective of increasing their incomes and protecting their natural resources. This project is phasing-out this year.
"Honestly, IFAD is one of our most reliable and beneficial partners, and their intervention areas have been supporting rural farmers globally including The Gambia, as the government has a strong and special relationship with IFAD," Mr. Mod A. Secka said.
“The Gambia depends heavily on agriculture as it constitutes 70 percent of the employment sector particularly for youth and women. This shows how important the sector is. All government policies and programmers pronounced the importance of the sector,” he added.
Mr. Momodou Gassama, Project Coordinator PIWAMP, added: “The Nema project is targeting all the six agricultural regions in the country and it will focus on women and youth to enable them to participate more actively in development initiatives.”
“The farmers were fully involved in the design of the Nema project,” said the President Women Wing of the National Coordination of Farmers Associations Gambia (NACOFAG) Fatou Samba Njai, who acknowledged the support IFAD has been giving to Gambian farmers over the years.
Written by Modou S. Joof