During the period in question i.e. 1994 to 2016), The Government of The Gambia under the Ministry of Agriculture together with her development partners has conceptualised, formulated, approved and implemented a total of 11 projects.
The main trust of implementing these projects were premised on improving crops and livestock production and productivity; income levels of small and medium holder farmers, improving access to financial services to increase agricultural production and productivity; food and nutrition security and sovereignty of the general farming population of both rural and peri-unban.
1.1 Approaches to the Review
The methodological approach adopted was based on reviewing of literatures/existing documents. Thus this brief report attempt to provide a summary of the projects that I think were implemented during the period, some general achievements and later focused on project specifics.
1.2 Limitation of the Review
In sufficient materials and time has contributed to some of the shortcomings of the review.
1.3 Highlights of Project Achievements/Impact and Portfolio
Some of the results highlights for the 2011-2014 period under the GNAIP include: an increase in area under crops in PIWAMP intervention sites of 49,751ha constituting (maize 3,145.25, millet 8,315.64, sorghum 2,997.3, rice 21,942.3 and groundnut 13,350.5) translating to 16.71% (millet) 6.32% (maize) 6% (sorghum), 44% (rice) and 26.83% for groundnut although the change in rice yield in the same areas was still low with a new at 1.06MT/ha (Source: Consolidated Projects Indicator Based Performance Report With Reference to the GNAIP 2011-2014).
In the same period, 27% of the population that depend on agriculture as a source of livelihood were reached through project support. Some projects recorded 86.5% of the people reached being able to 3 square meals per day for up to 10-12 months of the year whereas 17% of the households assisted under the RFP reported zero months of rice hungry period i.e. they were able to produce rice that can last them for 12 months of the year (Ref: Consolidated Projects Indicator Based Performance Report With Reference to the GNAIP 2011-2014)
Between 2009 and 2014; The Government of The Gambia managed to mobilise USD150 million worth of project budget during which a total of 3066 different types of production equipment and structures, 1984m of foot bridges, 81.5km of dykes with spillways, 350 stock routes and 371 km o conservation structures all geared towards improved crop and livestock production, processing and marketing. These include among others, the mini dairy processing plants, the fruit and vegetable processing plant; community based financial services infrastructure developed and 80 VISCAs established; 30329 agro-value chain actors received various capacity development support in the form of skills training and tools/equipment or agricultural input (seed, fertiliser, agro-chemicals and livestock feed support and; a state of the art Agriculture Sector M&E System was developed, just to name a few. All these translated into significant improvement in the quality of life of project participants through increased food production and diversity as well as household income ((Ref: Consolidated Projects Indicator Based Performance Report With Reference to the GNAIP 2011-2014).
The projects that have been implemented with their corresponding portfolios are seen in the table 1 below:
Table 1: Projects implemented from 1994 – 2016 with portfolio and funding sources
2.0 Lowlands Agricultural Development Programme (LADEP)
The Lowlands Agricultural Development Programme (LADEP) was the first, eight-year phase of a 20-year programme for sustainable community-driven reclamation and development of lowland areas to improve traditional rice production. The programme features simple technologies and self-help labour.
The programme’s long-term development objective is sustainable improvement of traditional rice production to enhance food security for poor rural households. The priority target group is traditional swamp and tidal rice growers, who are mainly women.
The first phase of the programme brought about fundamental changes in the traditional land tenure system. It catalysed the devolution of individually owned land back to the community and the sharing and redistribution of new communal land among individuals, mainly women, who participated in land reclamation works. Land tenure security for rural poor people, supported by government land reforms, has contributed to food security by promoting increased land reclamation and cropping.
The programme minimised land conflicts, reduced poverty among women farmers producing crops on their own land, and resulted in an increase in food production of 30 to 100 per cent. Adhering to the model of self-regulation provided by the programme, communities developed only those areas which they could effectively reclaim and cultivate.
Successful programme activities have been replicated and scaled up in the Participatory Integrated Watershed Management Project. Source: Online Moses Abukari IFAD CPM, The Gambia.
3.0 Participatory Integrated Watershed Management Project (PIWAMP)
The goal of the Participatory Integrated Watershed Management Project (PIWAMP) was to empower poor communities in rural areas to undertake and maintain integrated watershed management activities in order to increase their incomes and protect and conserve natural resources.
The key outcomes of the project were: (i) to enhance the capacity of the institutions and project beneficiaries; (ii) to train and empower the communities in natural resources management; (iii) increase production and productivity on a sustainable basis; and (iv) improve access to market infrastructure and inputs. The project coverage was nationwide and key components were i) a watershed management fund, ii) capacity building and iii) project coordination and monitoring and evaluation.
PIWAMP was to address the problems of salt water intrusion and acidification of land along the interface between the rice ecologies and the river, of poor access to tidal swamps, of low water retention due to the poor water holding capacity of soils such that water no longer ponds, and of the low organizational management capacity of farmer organizations.
As far as human and social capital and empowerment, The Gambia final draft report of the country programme evaluation (October 2015) highlighted that PIWAMP has reported the full physical completion of outputs in terms of both the establishment of farmer associations and the construction of water management structures. The sense of ownership and capacity within the farmer associations is low. While the establishment and registration of 89 VFAs, 55 Ward Farmer Associations and 6 District Level Farmer Associations meets output requirements, considerable capacity development and further support is required to enable these organisations to become functional and self-sufficient. VFAs were found most successful in places where they had been operational for some time and had been established by the farmers themselves.
It was estimated that 105,405 people directly benefitted, which is 64% of the appraisal target of 164,310 (54,685 women and 50,720 men). Project activities covered at least 89 communities, with an estimated 18,000 households as beneficiaries. This is more than the appraisal target of 12,000 households. As in other cases though, beneficiaries were not all from the poorest villages due to the lack of a specific targeting strategy.
Structures built are reported to have raised cropped area from a total of 4,547 ha in 2006 to a total area of 49,751 ha by 2013 against a target of 17,143ha, with the cultivated area for rice increasing from 471.24 ha in 2006 to 21,942.34 ha in 2013. Food crops production subsequently increased from 4,503.88 MT in 2006 to 50,481.06 Mt in 2013 with rice being the highest from 565.49 Mt in 2006 to 23,440.02 Mt in 2013 indicating 41-fold increase.
To be Continued
by Prof Pierre Gomez
Dean, School of Arts and Sciences
The University of The Gambia