The Ministry of Agriculture with funding from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has launched a twenty-six million dollar agricultural project at a ceremony held at the Kairaba Beach hotel.
The project, titled-Small Ruminant Production and Enchantments (SSRPEP), will focus on livestock production across the country. It is to be one of the biggest livestock projects in the country and targets about 30, 000 households.
Speaking at the launch, Amie Fabureh, the Minister of Agriculture, acknowledged that the livestock sub-sector is critical and vital for overall economic growth and in meeting food security goals of the country.
Minister Fabureh maintained that it would provide employment especially in the rural areas and contribute about 8% of the national economy.
Most of the livestock producers, she went on, live in the rural areas raising mainly cattle, sheep, and goats under- rain-fed mixed farming and traditional extensive production systems along with backyard poultry production.
She indicated that the livestock sub-sector has potential of reducing poverty and enhancing food security, though the sector has long been treated as an appendage only to crop agriculture, with both policymakers and development practitioners giving priority to staple crops over high -value agriculture process such as fruits, vegetables and animal -sources foods.
“In addition, livestock interventions have been mostly of a technical nature, focusing on the elements of animal husbandry, feeding, nutrition and disease control”.
Agric minister underscored that the four-year project will be financed through a 2-step financing approach and will consist of four major components.
“First improvement of small ruminant production, processing, and marketing, secondly, access to Islamic financing and support to capacity building and thirdly, master plan development for livestock value chains and the fourth is project management and coordination. The total project cost is USD26.81 million”.
The development objectives, she added, is to contribute to the overall improvement of the livelihood of pastoral communities in The Gambia by strengthening the productivity and resilience of rural communities and stimulating business entrepreneurship on the livestock sector.
“The project is national in both design and intent. It will be implemented in 39 districts across all the regions of the country. The Project is expected to reach more than 30,000 households engaged in small ruminants’ production and successful in modernizing their operation through access to finance and new technologies”.