The African Development Bank Group has signed a USD $9 million agriculture and food security loan with the Gambia, rescuing the government of President Yahya Jammeh from its failed Vision 2016 food security and self-sufficiency drive.

The Agriculture Value Chains Development Project (AVCDP) will involve the production, processing and storage of rice and livestock to increase on a sustainable basis the income of rural farmers and businesses engaged in production, processing, storage and marketing of rice and livestock.

Project intended for rural farmers and businesses

The AfDB loan will target farmers in the country’s Upper River Region where poverty and food and nutrition insecurity are highly endemic. Many in the region are subsistence farmers. It is expected that the loan will help create jobs for young people within the next five years. AfDB acting Vice President of Sector Operations Kapil Kapoor signed the agreement on behalf of the bank while Abdou Kolley, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Minister signed on behalf of the government of The Gambia.

Kapoor said the project which takes off from existing agricultural projects in The Gambia is in line with the bank’s High 5 priorities, more particularly its Feed Africa component and hopes that the Gambia will accelerate its implementation to ensure success.

The project to help Africa become net food exporter

The High 5s is the five development priorities of the Africa Development Bank: Light up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa. The priorities are essential focus areas in transforming the lives of the African people in line with the UN agenda on Sustainable Development Goals.

Feed Africa main objective is to make the continent a net food exporter by 2025, a transformation of which will involve mobilizing resources, representing a significant opportunity for potential to drive inclusive and green growth actors along the value chains. Estimated to benefit an overall 12,450 households comprising of 3,320 women and 4,980 men with additional 4,150 people to benefit indirectly, the project is among the bank’s 15 agriculture value-chain engagements across Africa.

Loan to strengthen relations between The Gambia, AfDB

After penning the loan agreement with high hopes, Gambia’s Finance Minister Abdou Kolley, said the loan agreement will help further cement the already smooth and long standing relations between the bank and the government of The Gambia.

The government of the Gambia under President Yahya Jammeh had set a target that by 2016, The Gambia will reach its food self-sufficiency goal of ‘eat what you grow and grow what you eat’ which many described as an already failed endeavor. The country’s presidency announced it will stop the importation of rice by 2016, a goal still far off with the nation importing about $50 million worth of rice.

Gambia’s government said the loan will greatly help in the realization of the food-sufficiency goal of President Yahya Jammeh’s Vision 2016 to ensure that it is not only a political propaganda but a reality.