By Own Correspondent – President Yahya Jammeh yesterday launched at the Kairaba Beach Hotel two five-year US$24 million projects, called the Gambia Growth and Competitiveness Project (GGCP) and the West African Agricultural Production Project (WAAPP).
In his launching statement, President Jammeh said agriculture has been the traditional pillar of the Gambian economy, contributing 26.2 per cent of GDP and providing employment and income to the majority of Gambians.
The President said with support from development partners, the sector has witnessed a major transformation from traditional small-holder subsistence farming to increasing levels of commercial green technology farming.
“As a result of this, my Government will continue to support the enabling environment and the necessary policy instrucments to ensure its continued growth and development,” he said.
The GGCP and WAAPP projects are being financed by the World Bank Group in the Agricultural sector.
The President used the opportunity to thank the World Bank Group for all the support extended to The Gambia, particularly in the education, agriculture and health sectors.
President Jammeh said the two projects being launched will build on the successes registered in the sector by Government, and the predecessor projects financed by the bank.
“I have noted, with much satisfaction, the increased visibility and scope of the World Bank Group’s operations in the country in terms of programming, portfolio size and resource envelop received within the last there years,” he added.
The two projects are timely considering the fact that they have been designed to respond and mitigate the impact of fuel, food and finance crises, he went on.
The Gambian leader urged the World Bank to expeditiously finalise the pipeline projects for the Gambia such as the African Coast to Europe Project, the Budget Support Operations, the Energy Project and the Commercial Agriculture and Value Chain Projects.
President Jammeh directed the relevant government institutions and officials to work closely and actively with the Bank officials within the set timelines for the successful completion of these projects.
He also seized the opportunity to appeal to the World Bank Group management to consider a second phase of the CDDP and the GEAP II both of which, he continued, have made a tremendous impact on the beneficiaries.
“I have learnt that the GGCP seeks to address and contribute further to the development of Agriculture through an out-grower scheme, which will be in two phases.
“Phase one, which spans year one to four is to test and develop the establishment of a commercial mango farming system in partnership with one or more private investors in order to produce a consistent volume and quality of new and existing mango varieties targeted for the fresh fruits export market.”
He said it will as well support private investments in processing secondary and tertiary quality produce for the domestic and export markets.
Phase two, he continued, will run from year four to five, and should competently strengthen the capacity of small holder farmers, and link them to the international market supply chain.
President Jammeh said that phase two will also support the establishment of primary and secondary processing facilities for pulping, freezing and drying, and that the pulping and freezing processes will result in the much-needed production of high quality ingredients for the year-round generation of fresh juices.
“The WAAPP is indeed a substantial project, as it will attract an investment of US13 million to be funded through an IDA grant of $7.0million and a Food Crisis Response Core Trust Fund Grant of $5.0 million,” he revealed.
He commended both agencies for their contributions, while hoping for a successful five-year implementation of the project.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Mambury Njie, and Carlos B. Cavalcanti, World Bank Senior Economist Poverty Reduction and Economic Management for Africa Region, both spoke at the event.