By Ramatoulie Jawo
The Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Hon. Seedy Keita, on Friday, December 1, 2022, told Lawmakers that the Ministry of Agriculture is implementing eight active agricultural projects with a total portfolio of $294 million.
“The Ministry is implementing a total of eight active agriculture projects with a total portfolio of US$294 million, geared towards the development, transformation, and modernization of the agriculture sector with the focus on key value chains namely rice, maize, horticulture crops to enhance the thematic areas which are well aligned with the ongoing NDP,” he said.
Minister Keita also told the gathered legislators that projects are being implemented through the Agriculture Ministry’s various departments and agencies to enhance climate resilience, youth capacity/employment, income and food security, and the development and promotion of pro_poor technologies, among others
He added that the public sector remains the primary source of finance for the agriculture sector in the last five years.
“The government intends to change those dynamics in the next five years. To that effect, the government shall create a risk-sharing mechanism with a view to de-risk the agriculture sector in terms of financial services from financial institutions. The government will create a fund that will avail up to 70% guarantee to the financial institutions for credit financing of agricultural investments by either individuals or Small and Medium Enterprises(SMEs). This we hope will induce the needed capital to transform and modernize agriculture for the benefit of every Gambian,” he disclosed.
Hon. Keita said there is overwhelming evidence that knowledge acquired from agricultural research continues to benefit the farming community and the entire population. He said given the above, agriculture is being accorded top priority in the country.
“Government plans to take up scientific and technological interventions for higher agriculture growth, especially towards climate resilience as climate change continues to pose unprecedented challenges to the farming community and the ecosystem.”
He also told lawmakers that the Agriculture sector has registered significant growth during the last season due to adequate rainfall and tremendous support from Government and development partners.
“The production of major agricultural commodities has increased as a result, the per capita availability of important food items has increased despite increasing population and demand,” He said.
Hon. Keita made these remarks at the National Assembly on Friday while giving his 2023 Budget Speech before the lawmakers.