Mr Bakary Trawally, the permanent secretary at the Department of State for Agriculture, on behalf of The Gambia government, yesterday, officially launched a five-year 12.71 million dollar Gambia Lowland Development Project (GALDED), at a ceremony held at the Baobab Holiday Resort in Bijilo.
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.
In his address, Mr Bakary Trawally said the contribution of the project together with the other projects at his Department of State, would significantly alleviate poverty in The Gambia.
According to him, 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 tones per year, which is equivalent to foreign exchange savings of U$2 million per year,” PS 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 hectares per year.
According to him, feasible irrigation facilities will be provided to supplement any shortfall in rains through the utilisation of the underground acquitter, 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. He concluded by expressing hope that the project will go a long way in aiding the country’s food self-sufficiency drive.
Speaking earlier, 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.
Lamin Sanneh, the governor of Western Region, hailed the project, saying that it will have positive impacts on the region. While stressing the need for more investment for local farmers, Governor Sanneh expressed his region’s commitment to ensure that the objectives of the project are achieved.