The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Sheriffo Bojang, has called for special attention to be given to climate-smart agriculture and also market functioning, as stakeholders brainstormed in a three-day seminar designed to pave a way forward for the launching of the second generation of The Gambia Natural Agricultural Investment Plan (GNAIP).
The programme served as a platform for the drafting process as part of the global initiative aimed at achieving zero hunger by 2025. It’s an ECOWAS-led process intended as a framework that facilitates the integration of both national and regional level initiatives.
The initiative was driven by the Conference of Heads of State of the African Union in Malabo and implemented by the African Union Commission and NEPAD Agency.
The process include: supporting countries for the definition of a second generation NAIP by 2025, whereas unifying various initiatives that have been developed in recent years; integrating the priority regional guidelines adopted by ECOWAP + 10 and Outlook 2025 Conference and to support at the regional level for the second generation reflecting the thematic production identified by the Conference.
Deputy Minister Bojang explained that the climate-smart agriculture would include youth and women and the financing of the agricultural programmes with focus on value chains and product marketing by adjusting the trade circumstances in the country to support what is being grown and eaten here.
While underscoring the role and importance of agriculture in the economies of West Africa and especially The Gambia, he posited that it is through accelerating agricultural transformations in The Gambia that we can make the country self-sufficient in her production activities.
“Indeed, the country has achieved over the last ten years significant progress with a focus on land development, water control, input supply, partnership development, modernisation of equipment and developing a strategy based on result of research.”
The efforts of the country in implementing the GNAIP 1.0, he reminded participants, was challenged especially with regard to funding, and therefore, leading to low achievement in targets set in the priority investment areas.
“However, despite the many emergencies that The Gambia faced in general, we have significantly increased the share of national budget to agricultural development over time,” he said.
The emerging issues to be considered in the next generation GNAIP, he said, should include development of an inclusive approach, the inclusion of women and youth, rethinking in agricultural development, developing value chains and to enable agricultural productivity.
To essentially have results that improve living conditions of the population by 2025, he said, concrete actions must be taken by renewing the partnership between actors. He also outlined the need to develop advocacy for better repositioning of agriculture on the national agenda.
The Commitment of Malabo and orientations of ECOWAP, which he said gave importance to the promotion of family farms and food sovereignty, should be highly embraced by all.
by Bekai Njie