Matching Grant beneficiaries hope to produce over 650MTs of onions

Matching Grant beneficiaries hope to produce over 650MTs of onions

By Sulayman Waan

The Gambia is endowed with adequate land and human resources to produce surplus vegetables to boost food and nutrition security, create employment and to reduce poverty. Yet, the country is highly dependent on imported horticultural products to meet the national demand.  

Each year, The Gambia invests millions of dollars on the importation of vegetables especially onions for consumption and thus contributing to the spiralling rate of high inflation.

Limited access to finance has remain a major barrier to large scale private investment in the sub-sector to help its transition from subsistence to market-oriented commercial venture.

As part of the numerous initiatives of The Gambian Government and The World Bank to address this perennial challenge, the GIRAV project is supporting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through a matching grant scheme. Through this partnership, the project provides 60 percent of the sub-projects cost whilst the grant beneficiaries contribute 40 percent.

The beneficiaries of the grant have expressed gratitude to the government and World Bank for the “lives changing” scheme.

Speaking to journalists at his farm, Aziz Sowe, farm manager for Bakaf Farms at Bajiran village in Foni Bondali District, West Coast Region said: “We used to cultivate 25 hectares of onions, but the grant has enabled us to cultivate additional 16 hectares on onion production.”

“We bought a sowing machine and a 200 metres long pivot for irrigation with the funds. Each hectare is projected to produce a minimum of 28Metric Tonnes. So, in total we hope to have 448Metric Tonnes. Hundreds of people from more than 14 villages within the district are being engaged to provide labour on the farm and each month we pay out over D300,000 as wages to them. So, the support is indeed very impactful.”

Mohammed A. Jawara, proprietor of Gikay Farms in Tuba Kuta village in Kombo East District, West Coast Region said: “The GIRAV partnership is very impactful and, I cannot even put that in words. It has given me a big lift as an agricultural entrepreneur. Agriculture as we all know is capital intensive – The GIRAV fund has given me the ability to do things that I was not able to do before. If you look at the work on the farm it is fully mechanized.”

“The amount of work that was put into the water project, that is digging the trenches, and fixing pipes is extremely helpful. So, the GIRAV fund has really helped to lift me up and I think there is a long way to go.”

Mr. Jawara used the opportunity to commend the government and the World Bank for the initiative, while calling for more similar projects.

He advised the government to continue engaging and encouraging all stakeholders in local communities to practice agriculture. He further appealed to the government to strengthen partnership with the World Bank and other partners to mobilize the resources that are needed to boost agricultural practice.

 Lamin Jobe, founder and managing director of Afric Agro Action Company Ltd described the scheme as a game changer to his business. He explained that it has enabled his firm to invest massively on its infrastructure on two site – a four-hectare farm and a twenty-hectare field to promote large scale production of horticulture, farmers’ trainings in Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), access to technologies and innovations as well as employment and wealth creation.


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