President Adama Barrow on Friday fulfilled one of his major campaign promises with the launching of the Gambia’s first-ever government-led Smart Farming Project aimed at transforming the country’s agricultural sector.
Attended by cabinet ministers, senior NPP surrogates, presidential advisers and the farming community, the project is expected to transform the country’s agricultural sector.
President Barrow was upbeat that the project will serve as a propellant to a decrease in youth unemployment. “It is a bold step towards food self-sufficiency and will contribute to increased GDP and foreign exchange earnings.”
“Now, in the interest of the people, our focus is on bold solutions, using digital technologies in the agriculture sector. Heads of public institutions have to see this as an example of forward-thinking approaches and innovative development. Thus, our partnerships ought to be mutually beneficial and aligned with the realities of the people. In the same way, our projects should always be inclusive and multi-faceted enough to effectively solve the growing challenges of our growing youthful population,” he said.
He said his government realises how urgent it is to translate its plans into concrete action that benefits and cuts across the length and breadth of the country.
“We know that the impact of our decisions will be felt countrywide,” he added.
President Barrow said his government is proud of the massive successes recorded during the last six years.
“Among them is the construction of over one thousand kilometers of roads and bridges, the unprecedented implementation of energy projects across the regions, the continuous investments in the health sector, and the numerous developments arising from our reform and restructuring agenda. Together, we can celebrate these achievements as outputs of the vision of a unified people,” he said.
The growing uncertainty in the global economy, rising instability on the continent, increasing commodity prices around the world, the growing effects of climate change, and other striking challenges, President Barrow added, “we must, as a country, re-define our priorities, investments, and interventions”.
He commended the GGC boss Muhammed Njie and his team on the important milestone.
The project will be implemented by the National Food Security Processing and Marketing Corporation in partnership with the TIJMS trading international joint venture.
Muhammed Njie, the managing director of the NFSPMC, said: “With TIJMS Trading International, we have found a partner that believes in our vision of sustainable growth for the corporation, the farming community in The Gambia and the entire Gambian people.
“For the corporation, this is one of many projects that we will be embarking on shortly. Our current position has seen the strengthening of our trading arm which has been a good price stabiliser in the market. As a commercial entity, we are in business to make a profit and to contribute to the government’s development agenda. It is however worthy to reiterate, that as a Social Enterprise, we have very unique obligations to the Gambian people which can never be ignored,” he said.
He said the development of the project came after immense scrutiny of its viability and sustainability.
“As the first of many such projects planned for the next five years, it is important to us that it succeeds in every way we have envisioned. We believe strongly that this multi-million-euro project will not only be a commercial success but will inevitably improve the capacity of our people in one of the most essential industries in modern times,” he said.
He added that with increased hunger and malnutrition, the government, through the leadership of President Barrow, and with the direct support of the ministries of agriculture and finance, has demonstrated that “no effort will be held back in ensuring that our food security goals are achieved in the short and medium term.”
The president of the farmer association and the PS Ministry of Agriculture also made statements at the launch.