Friday, June 20, 2014

EU provides seeds and fertilizer to Gambian farmers

Gambian classroom scene.
The Delegation of the European Union is providing € 7.6 million to the MDG 1c project for the purchase of 100 metric tonnes of certified seeds and fertilizer to the Gambian farmers so that they can have a good start in the coming farming season.

The program will be limited to the North Bank, Central and Upper River regions of the country considered to be the most vulnerable areas as it concerns food security.

According to the EU Facebook page posting, the project "aims at reducing and poverty in food insecure and vulnerable communities by focusing on food security through crop production intensification and school feeding" to be implimented by the FAO and WFP respectively.

EU, FAO, WFP and farmer reps.
The most vulnerable communities in the three targeted regions of the country will benefit from almost 8,000 bags of 50 kg of fertilizer and about 2,500 bags of seeds, according to reports.  The number of individual farmers to benefit from these vital agricultural inputs is estimated to be 3,725 farmers, that will include those tending to community gardens.

The distribution of the fertilizer will be done exclusively by the FAO and directly to the beneficiaries. We cannot be happier with these arrangements that will ensure that the inputs will go to where they are intended and to the proper beneficiaries.

In her remarks during the handing over of the inputs, the EU Delegate, Agnes Guillaud, provided some historical context about how we got to where we are and why the MDG 1c project which came about after it was realized as earlier as 2010 that Gambia will not be able to meet its agriculture sector MDG goals by 2015, the EU created a $ 1 billion development fund to help countries lagging behind to catch up.  The Gambia was one of them and thus the MDG 1c project that is currently financing the nearly 4,000 Gambian farmers.

According to The Point newspaper that quoted the EU Delegate, Gambia's own National Agricultural Investment Program (GNIP) suggested that although the sector has the potential to contribute significantly to the attainment of the MDGs in The Gambia, "...the current level of productivity of the sector is well below the growth required to tackle food security and poverty."  The target has been reset to 6% annual growth in production to achieve the goal.  Yet, Yaya Jammeh is still running around the country trying to sell us a bill of goods that The Gambia can achieve food self-sufficiency in two years.   To continue his assault on our collective intelligence as a people, he has now advanced the date to next year.  Anyway, let's get back to our story.

Last year, The Gambia benefited from the MDG 1c project to the same tune as this year.  However, as a condition for participation in the program, the EU insisted that both the crop intensification and school feeding will be implimented by FAO and WFP.

As we have maintained in the past, the European Union's continued assistance to The Gambia is essential if we are to avoid cutting off our nose to spite our face.  Yaya Jammeh should not be the cause to deny ordinary Gambians access to development assistance, especially at a time when the economy continues to be mismanaged by Yaya Jammeh at the expense of the most vulnerable communities that our traditional development partners led by the European Union.