Thursday, December 29, 2011



The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has renewed and reinforced the prospects of The Gambia attaining her food self-sufficiency aspirations through a two-year project dubbed Food Security Commercialization of Agriculture (FSCA) funded by the Italian government to the tune of US$2 million.

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has rolled out a two-year US$2M food project called Food Security Commercialization of Agriculture (FSCA), to support the development of The Gambia’s agriculture and transform it into a modern, competitive and commercially vibrant sector.
Funded by the Italian government to the tune of US$2 million, the project aims at alleviating food insecurity through the commercialization of agriculture, said Amie Jallow, programme coordinator of the FSCA.

Under the project, the FAO promotes a concept called One Village One Product and nationally the concept is known as One Satay One Product (OSOP). 

"Under this concept, we have trained different people in different villages and each of these villages is encouraged to depend on producing, processing and adding value to a product that the village has a comparative advantage over others, Mrs Jallow said while speaking to this reporter at the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry international biennial trade fair held at the Independent Stadium in Bakau from 8 to 18 December this year.

“The idea is to support the communities to produce very high quality produce and add value to it,” Mrs Jallow said.

The concept has and continues to register tremendous success in the sense that each of the villages now specializes on a product that they have comparative advantage in. 

The FAO has facilitated some women from some of the beneficiary communities to exhibit their products at the trade fair to be seen by potential customers as well as to establish network and contacts with other businesses at the fair.

“We brought some women producers and entrepreneurs from villages we conducted training under the OSOP to come and exhibit and promote their products at the trade fair, the FSCA country coordinator said.

“They are from four different communities and each of them is showcasing their talent in adding value to their produce. They are from the North Bank Region and Central River Region and each of these communities specialises on their own product.  Some specialise on producing, processing and adding value to ‘Findi’, which they are showcasing here.  Some are exhibiting fresh pepper as well as pepper processed into pepper sauce and other products.

“Some of them are showcasing the ‘Wonjo’ they process into ‘Wonjo concentrate juice’ and ‘Wonjo’ jam, while some showcase peanut butter and peanut oil.”

Mariatou Njie, Assistant FAO Representative to The Gambia, who also spoke to MarketPlace Business at the trade fair, said they took part in the trade fair to promote products of the communities where the project is underway so that Gambians will know what they are doing and what the women are capable of producing and adding value to.

“This project is helping the communities to add value to what they produce because most of the time we help farmers to produce but we are not looking at the other side of the coin - adding value to the produce to make it more marketable and also linking them to markets,” she said. “In this way they will be able to produce more because they are assured of a market for their produce.

“But if you want people to produce and there is no market for their raw products, because there is no value addition, then the production will go down and all the initial gain made in increasing production will be futile.  This is what we want to address; that is why we are helping them to add value to their produce and also link them to the market.”

The Gambia is one of the seven countries where the FSCA is being implemented. Saihou Jatta, a communication consultant, said the aim of the project is to improve food security in the country.  The project is underway in forty communities in The Gambia with an overall focus of improving the livelihood of farmers.

According to Mr Jatta, there are three very important linkages for farming to be commercially viable and two of crucial need are publicity and marketing.  “It is very important for people to know about your products and also important to have the right market and this trade fair has the market opportunities for anyone that has quality products,” he said.

Mama Jatta from Njawara village, one of the beneficiary communities exhibiting at the trade fair, said when the project started, the implementers first helped them in gardening by giving them seedlings to increase their production level. 

They were also trained on how to remove aflotoxin from groundnut, Mama noted, saying: “Now they are helping us to process and add value to our products and we are making income from our processed produce.”


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