By Isatou Jawara
The Hon Minister of Agriculture yesterday presided over the official handing over of 35 brand new laptops worth over GMD3, 000,000.00 to key Implementing Partners (IPs) of the Gambia Inclusive and Resilient Agricultural Value Chain Development Project (GIRAV).
The project procured the laptops intending to facilitate the work of the 18 IPs to help minimize their technology gap.
GIRAV is a five-year project funded by the World Bank through a grant of US$40 million to promote the development of inclusive, resilient, and competitive agricultural value chains, with a specific focus on smallholder farmers and agribusinesses in The Gambia. The Ministry of Agriculture is the project’s executing agency and the Central Projects Coordinating Unit (CPCU) of the Ministry throughout the country in close partnership with 18 IPs is implementing it.
In his keynote address, Dr. Demba Sabally, Hon Minister of Agriculture described the handing-over ceremony as a great moment for the Ministry and the sector at large.
He noted that the gesture is a clear demonstration of his Ministry’s drive to transform the agriculture sector from subsistence smallholder farming to commercial and digitalized data-driven for national food security, nutrition, and economic growth as enshrined in the national development plan.
“This is the central pillar in our second-generation agricultural investment plan and as envisaged by His Excellency, The President, Mr. Adama Barrow. As the project is going digital, these items are meant to support the Ips to improve on their information technology needs with regards to data collection, storage, processing, analysis, and reporting”, he noted.
Dr. Sabally used the opportunity to acknowledge the project’s 2022 seed programmed, which enabled over 11,000 farmers (60% women and 35% youth) to have access to high-quality certified climate-smart seeds including 200 metric tons of rice of different varieties and 50 metric tons of maize of different varieties.
He said as far as productivity is concerned, preliminary analysis from the seed programmed shows that yields per hectare have doubled from a baseline of two (2) metric tons per hectare to about 5 to 6 metric tons per hectare for rice and an average yield of 4 to 5 metric tons per hectare of maize.
In 2022, the GIRAV project procured and handed over to the Department of Agriculture 100 Tablets and 50 motorcycles to facilitate the work of the extension workers in data collection, storage, processing, analysis, and reporting as well as to facilitate mobility for effective delivery of extension services in the field.
Mr. Paul Mendy, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for the GIRAV project and the CPCU chaired the event held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.