|New Minister of Agriculture, Solomon Owens|
The Gambia government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, has disclosed that it “urgently needed” twenty three million U.S dollars to provide food, seeds, and fertilizer to the entire farming population as the country declared 2011-2012 farming season a failure resulting from severe crop failures and a corresponding soaring of food prices.
A statement from the Ministry of Agriculture, formally announcing the national crop failure, stated that the post-harvest assessment of the 2011 farming season, which was characterised by below-normal and poorly distributed rainfall, indicated a reduction in total crop production of more than 70%.
In response to this emerging crisis, the government is mobilising all available emergency funds for immediate action to assist the most affected, and calls on the international community and NGOs to assist in addressing current needs and preventing “further deterioration of the situation”.
According to the release, the resources “urgently needed” is well beyond what the national capability can guarantee and thus our resort to ask for external help from our friends and development partners. National Seeds requirement is put at 25, 000 MT valued at US$10 Million. Fertilizer requirement is estimated at 37, 500 MT valued at US$8 Million and food relief is estimated at 40, 000 MT valued at US$5 Million.
The release said the current situation poses a serious threat to both food security and nutrition security which in turn will negatively impact the Gambia’s socio-economic development considering the serious resource constraint to address them.
The International Monetary Fund has recently expressed concerned over the mass crop failure in the Gambia saying it has impacted negatively on the Gambia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) causing an estimated slippage of about 3 per cent in 2011, down from an earlier projection of about 5 ½ per cent.
The IMF noted that the country’s real GDP for 2012 is projected to be slightly negative, “reflecting the main impact of crop failure in the first half of the year and a potentially softer tourism market later in the year”.