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October 19, 2008

Gambia launches $13 million agricultural project

The Gambia government has officially launched a five-year 12.71 million dollar Gambia Lowland Development Project (GALDED). Described by many as timely, the launching of the project brought together various government officials, National Assembly members, and veteran agriculturists, as well as local farmers.

Jointly funded by The Gambia government and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the five-year project will focus on the Western Region. Its objective, according to officials, is to help improve food security and productivity of rice, cereals, vegetables and fruits in the Western Region, through the improvement of Lowland soil and water management, as well as developing irrigation in the upland.

Government agricultural official Mr. Bakary Trawally said the project will cover a total of 1,400 hectares, out of a balance of 19,900 hectares, within a period of five years. He noted that the project’s intervention area has a potential rice cultivation area of 22,400 hectares, out of which he indicated, a total of 2500 hectares is being cultivated.

“After five years of successful implementation, the project is expected to benefit about 27,000 farm households with a total population of 393,000 people in the Western Region. It is expected that domestic milled rice production will be increased by 7000 tonnes per year, which is equivalent to foreign exchange savings of U$2 million per year,” Trawally indicated. He then said that the income of participating farmers, mainly dominated by women (95%), will increase fourfold from D5,500 hectares per year to D22,000 per year.

According to Trawally, feasible irrigation facilities will be provided to supplement any shortfall in rains through the utilisation of the underground acquifer, noting that in the upland fields, irrigation systems will be used to facilitate the production of fruits and vegetables through borehole drilling and construction of a water distribution network.

Mr Famara S Badjie, project coordinator of GALDEP, said the project was built around nine components, which include rural infrastructure, post harvest technologies, and environmental protection measures.

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