The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has provided financing for nine projects and programmes in The Gambia amounting to US$53.7 million directly benefiting over 126,000 rural households in the country.
IFAD is operating in The Gambia since 1982 providing support and assistance to rural farmers.
Speaking at the 7th Regional Forum for IFAD-funded Projects held in Gambia at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi from 12th to 15th November 2012, the Minister of Agriculture, Solomon Owens, said IFAD is currently supporting three major projects in The Gambia, namely: the Participatory Integrated Watershed Development Project (PIWAMP), the Livestock and Horticulture Development Project (LHDP), and the Rural Finance Project (RFP).
“These three on-going projects are all focusing on increasing agricultural production and productivity while increasing incomes of rural women and youth through appropriate land and water management technologies; improved vegetable and livestock schemes; and enhanced access to much needed financial support respectively,” Mr Owens said.
He pointed out that the performance and impact of these projects have so far been impressive.
According to him, PIWAMP data indicate that with the project’s interventions, over 34,000 hectares of land are under crop cultivation benefiting almost 80,000 rural farmers of which 53% are women. Through RFP support to over 60 Village Savings and Credit Associations (VISACAs) more than 32,000 rural poor people, about 40% women, are benefiting from the VISACA services. And thorough LHDP support, 18 hectares of fodders fields have been established, directly benefiting about 1,200 small ruminant owners, 98% being women.
However, he said no matter the achievements realized so far, there are also challenges when it comes to implementing development projects especially in the areas of result-and evidence-based systems.
He said the biggest challenges of IFAD projects in The Gambia is monitoring the projects on the ground and evaluating their impact on the lives and the livelihood of the beneficiaries.
“My Ministry has taken steps to strengthen its internal capacity to respond rapidly to some of these challenges,” the Agric Minister said. “A central coordinating unit is in operation to ensure that all projects and programmes are in sync with national results and pro-poor frameworks.”