IFAD to Release Record US$80 Million Financed Project for Gambia, Designed to Promote Value Chain
With NEMA project phasing out, the International Funds for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is expected to release a record funding for The Gambia at the tune of US$80 million to ensure resilience and value chain in agricultural productivity and create employment.
Dubbed ROOTS – (Resilience of Organisations for Trans-formative Smallholder Agricultural Project), it is intended to capitalize on the gains of the National Agricultural Land and Water Management Development Project (NEMA) and build on the successes and draw lessons from the on-going and past IFAD funded projects.
ROOTS will focus on up scaling NEMA achievements in the rice and vegetable value chains targeting women and youth and farmer organizations, according to project director, Momodou L. Gassama.
In an exclusive interview with The Chronicle, Gassama disclosed that the project will last for six years.
“The ROOTS is a six-year project, with total financing of US$80 Million. It’s expected to be financed by IFAD through its funding cycle 11 and 12, in collaboration with other co- financials like the AFD (French Development Agency), the GEF and OFID,” Gassama explained.
He added: “The goal of the project is to improve food security, nutrition and smallholder farmers’ resilience to climate change in The Gambia and improve the lives of farmers and farmer organisations through increased productivity and technical capacity building to ensure that they are resilient and can participate profitably in the implementation of the value chain.”
He justified the need for the project, stating the importance to develop the capacity of the farming community to respond and adapt to the various climate scenarios is critical for a sustained value chain development. He believes that without strong capacity, it will be difficult for them to improve their productivity and also engage in the implementation of the value chain.
With this project, he said the strengthening of farmer organisations capacity will be significant a mechanism in ensuring the full implementation of the value chain, which will result in creating job opportunities for many people particularly the women and youth.
“They may not only be the farmers’ organizations, you see in the value chain, we don’t have to have only the farmers to be part of the value chain. In the value chain, you have producers as the downstream actors, while in the upstream you have people who do the transportation, storage, value addition and marketing. All these are sources of employment creation,” he said.
To ensure inclusiveness in the value chain implementation, Gassama said unlike other projects, ROOTS has a package for citizen engagement with a view to create space for all sectors of society mainly the disabled. ROOTS also seeks to further develop the Agriculture Value Chain Interaction Platform (AVIP) that will bring together different key factors such as producers, transporters, processors buyers, and other middlemen for better delivery while also boosting employment.
As NEMA project already established the Agriculture Value Chain Interaction Platform, this avenue will accelerate the interaction between key economic players within the value chain.
He added that the project will undertake land development for increased production, to carry out technical capacity building to increase productivity, to carry out financing to ensure that there is easy access to essential services and the markets through the matching grant facility.
“So these are some of the new injections in this project and I hope that it will achieve the intended objective of inclusiveness, which will not only stop at rural people, but other areas of the country,” he said.
Since its inception in 1982, IFAD has funded at least 10 projects for The Gambia at the tune of about US$193 million geared towards fighting rural poverty through agricultural projects.