The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Agriculture and Employer Association (GCCI), in partnership with The Gambia Commercial Agriculture and Value Chain Management Project (GCAV) on Tuesday held a forum on Innovation in Agricultural Financing, at the GCCI Kerr Jula Office in Bijilo.
The forum brought together financial institutions, producers, processors and other stakeholder institutions in agriculture to extensively discuss issues or challenges in accessing loans from financial institutions and to propose recommendations on the way forward.
Sarata Conateh, Director of Business Development at GCCI, in her introductory remarks said it is important to note that any efforts to improve agricultural financing should take into account the realities of businesses, particularly MSMEs. “We know that our farmers are faced with lack of agricultural banks, low educational level among other things,” she added.
“There have been some improvements, I must admit which is why, it is always good to dialogue, engage and keeping informed on what is happening and what we can do to get access and better improve our lives particularly for MSMEs. Legal framework and enforcement of rules and regulations is needed to have supportive rural infrastructure which contributes immensely to ensuring that sustainable access to finance becomes a reality.”
Mbaye Baboucarr Jabang, Project Coordinator GCAV, said the project he is heading is a paradigm shift as far as agricultural project demands are concerned. “A manager from the African Development Bank once told me, all partners be it the funding agency and recipient countries focus too long on production.”
Jabang lamented the inability to properly market our products because of over focusing on production and over productivity, adding that rice farmers in CRR have rice produces that cannot be marketed. “It is a shame when we are importing rice and we have rice produced in the country that we cannot market for an array of reasons, amongst which is lack of proper agricultural financing mechanisms to address the value chain from production all the way to the dinner table.”
Jabang noted that the African Development Bank used to make it conditional in the early part of the new millennium that every development project has to have a credit financing component.
“Some key players in the agricultural development field have advocated for the rejuvenation of the Agricultural Development Bank, as a result we gave out a consultancy and there is a document that will be shared with participants for critiquing because it is not a new road,” he concluded.
by Omar Wally