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Gambia produces only 17% of rice it consumes—report

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Gambian authorities target 2029 to achieve self-sufficiency in rice.

Gambia produces only 17% of the rice consumed in the country every year, a new report reveals. This leaves a wider production and consumption gap of over 80%.

The CIPRiSSA Gambia Report which was launched few days ago at Baobab Resort establishes a clearly defined road map to rice self-sufficiency for the country.

Rice is the staple food for Gambia’s 2 million population and it has been recorded that on average every Gambian consumes 117kg per annum of rice, far above the world average of 56.9kg per annum.

The report reveals that Gambian earned eighty million United States dollars from tourism in 2017 and spent seventy four million United States dollars to import rice the same year.

Thus, indicating that increase in rice production will contribute to macroeconomic stability. However, the investment will be colossal.

“Between 2019 and 2029 the stakeholders in the country’s rice sector should invest between US$ 655,838 to US$ 794,609 annually in the rice seed value chain with a total of US$ 7.9 million over eleven years. Investments in appropriate fertilizers were projected to range between US$ 903,900 to US$ 1.1 million between 2019 and 2029. Investments in technology development, transfer, capacity building will require an annual investment of around US$ 437,000 with a total of US$ 4.8 million over the period of between 2019 to 2029,” indicates the report.

“To reduce the drudgery in production in rice fields, and to attract the youth into product processing, annual investment requirements in new machines/equipment were projected to range from US$ 719,440 to US$ 824,651 over a period of the 11 years. Annual investment requirements for marketing, awareness/promotion of local rice ranges from US$ 161,698 to US$ 183,458 over the eleven-year period. This study projects an annual addition of 545 ha of new irrigated rice fields between 2019 and 2029, with a total of 6,000 newly irrigated fields by 2029. Annual investment requirements in new irrigation would be US$ 4.46 million. The corresponding additional investments in new irrigation schemes is estimated at US$ 49.03 million over eleven years.”

The report highlights among other things the required investments in the six priority areas for rice self-sufficiency by 2029.

The report also presents the additional benefits for investing in rice self-sufficiency and the long term profitability of such investments.

“The dependency on imports to meet the national rice deficit, continues to predispose the food security situation in The Gambia to the vulnerability of volatile global market trends and also deplete our foreign exchange reserves,” said agriculture minister Amie Fabureh.

The report was launched by Gambia’s agriculture ministry and other stakeholders such as UN agencies and non-governmental organisations.

If this project goal is achieved, the report indicates that Gambia will gain a total of US$ 54.11 million from transactions related to local rice value chain over the period 2019 to 2029.

It also forecasts that a total of 244,891 farming households would be reached through the new investments.

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