As part of its intervention to support youth and women in agricultural production and productivity, the National Agricultural Land and Water Management Development Project (Nema) on Friday, 21st June, 2019 handed over 16 rice and cereal processing machines and accessories to 14 youth groups across the country.
The presentation of the items was held at a colorful ceremony at the Nema office in Abuko.
The equipment is earmarked through Nema Matching Grant facility to ensure that intended services to the smallholder farmers are provided.
Presiding over the presentation ceremony, the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Amie Fabureh said Nema’s agribusiness development facility which is the Capital Investment Stimulation Fund (CISF) or Matching Grant facility was designed around the process of innovating, developing and building medium-term financial services adapted to women and youth groups and individual-based Small and Medium Enterprises.
She explained that innovative elements of the proposed scheme include the tripartite contribution to the scheme based on the promotion of commodities value chain development ensuring that services are rendered through a partnership between producer organisations, public sector and private sector equipment suppliers.
She continued: “Last year, 5 tractors were handed over to the farming community and today we are again witnessing the handing over of a total of 16 processing machines and accessories to 14 youth groups and individual enterprises.
This, according to Minister Fabureh, is a demonstration that the value chain is working through the matching grant alone, as Nema had previously supported over 20 enterprises in the downstream end of the value chain by providing tractors, power tillers, solar irrigation system, etc.
Commenting further on the initiative, she thanked that Government of the Gambia and its development partners as well as the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for taking lead in the development of the agriculture sector in the Gambia and for demonstrating their commitment to invest in youths.
The Nema Project Director, Mr Momodou L. Gassama, in his speech on the occasion said Nema is a value-chain project focusing on rice and vegetable value chains, and targeting youth and women and seeks to increase food security incomes, reduce food importation and also increase food security.
He added that Nema have invested heavily on primarily production through the construction of water control infrastructure to support lowland and upland development, tidal irrigation and vegetable garden schemes.
In achieving full implementation of the value chain, Mr Gassama noted that it is necessary to support the upstream activities such as processing, transportation and marketing, adding that the project has targeted youth groups and individual in the rural areas and provided them with requisite capacity building to ensure that this objective of driving the upstream value chain activities is achieved.
“The other important support is facilitated through the Matching Grant to establish youth enterprises that will provide services to the producers, expand the rural economy and also create employment for the rural youth,” he said.
Giving a background history of Nema Project’s funding envelope, he explained that the project is co-financed by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) comprising of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Government of the Gambia (GoTG) with IFAD as the lead development partner financing over 50% of the project.