|Kanayo F. Nwanze will arrive in Banjul on Wednesday (Poto: Taken from Mansa Banko) Several officials overseeing agricultural projects, including IFAD-funded projects, were sent to jail in June, some, over allegations of theft. It is not clear if Nwanze's talks with Jammeh will touch on such issues.|
The President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Kanayo F. Nwanze, will arrive in Banjul on August 20 for a two-day official visit to meet with The Gambia's President Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh and Vice President Dr. Isatou Njie-Saidy.
Nwanze's meeting with Jammeh will focused on strengthening partnerships and furthering work to transform rural areas into economically vibrant places, IFAD said in a statement Friday, August 15.
IFAD supports a number of agricultural projects in rural Gambia that worth millions of US dollars.
He will also meet Dr. Njie-Saidy, who is also the Minister of Women Affairs. Nwanze is expected to meet the minister of agriculture, minister of Trade, other senior government officials, and the UN System in The Gambia.
“Investments in smallholder agriculture that prioritize rural people, and in particular women and youth, will be on the top of my agenda during my discussions with country leaders in Banjul,” Nwanze said ahead of his visit.
“Smallholder family agriculture can be a high-yielding, efficient and lucrative business as well as a dignified profession that produces food, creates jobs, sustains families and puts countries on the road to stable, inclusive development.”
Agriculture is an important sector of The Gambia’s economy, contributing up to 25 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP). It provides employment and income for 70 per cent of the country’s 1.8 million people.
While omen account for over 50 per cent of the agricultural labour force and 70 per cent of unskilled labourers, they produce about 40 per cent of total agricultural output.
Nwanze's meeting with Njie-Saidy is expected to focus on rural women’s empowerment and how to enhance their contribution to family-farming as a profitable economic activity.
“Gender equality and women’s empowerment have always been at the core of IFAD’s efforts to reduce poverty,” Nwanze said.
He said investing in rural Gambian women for them to have equal access to economic opportunities and services is one of the most effective strategies for reducing poverty and malnutrition.
According to the UN Development Programme, poverty remains high in rural Gambia. It states that the country may not meet the 2015 target of the millennium development goals.
IFAD has stated that Nwanze's meeting with Kebba S. Touray, minister of finance and economic affairs, and Solomon Owens, minister of agriculture, will be centred on “how targeted investments in smallholder agriculture can raise household income levels, improve food and nutrition security and reduce levels of poverty on a sustainable basis.”
He will also visit an IFAD-supported rice farm run by a women’s group at Pakalinding village and a functional literacy training programme for women at Sibanor to see how participants have improved their lives.
Since 1982, IFAD has financed 10 programmes and projects in the tiny West African country for a total value of US$197.7 million, of which IFAD has contributed $73.9 million which it said directly benefits 149, 200 households.
Several officials overseeing agricultural projects, including IFAD-funded projects, were sent to jail in June, some, over allegations of theft. It is not clear if Nwanze's talks with Jammeh will touch on such issues.
Written by Modou S. Joof
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