The government of Gambia has identified horticulture as one of the priority areas for development. “Horticulture is an important source of income, employment and an entry point for improving food and nutritional security in the country, especially in rural areas and among women farmers”, says the permanent secretary at the ministry of Agriculture, Sheriffo Bojang.
He adds that horticulture is a dynamic sub- sector of agriculture which attracts attention from the government, development agencies and private sector investors. “Horticulture is very important in the socio-economic development of the country and at the moment constitutes approximately 4 percent of GDP and it is perhaps the key source of rural income for the women folk,” according to Bojang. He also says that the National Horticulture Sector Master Plan (NHSMP) will work closely together with National Medium Term Programme Framework of the FAO and the Gambian government, as well as donors and major development partners in the horticultural sector.
Bojang: ,,The master plan will be a giant step towards the attainment of the objectives of the Gambia National Agricultural Investment Programme (GNAIP) and the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE) of the Gambia Government.”
Another important tool is the Farm Management Hand Book, says the PS: “This document will provide technical guidance to the farming community, the extension specialists and agricultural advisers. The content of the document, if properly followed and utilized, will obviously improve the production and productivity of the farming community.”
The Farm Management Hand Book has eight thematic areas namely, vegetable production, grains, legumes and oil seeds, cereals production, soil fertility, pest management, post-harvest handling processing and preservation and marketing. Bojang urged stakeholders and collaborating partners in the field of agriculture and natural resources to take holistic value chain approaches focusing on women and the youth for improving horticultural production.
He also stressed that links have to be established with international markets to boost export for traditional horticultural products like vegetables as well as less exploited segments such as floriculture or high value fruits. The PS hopes to improve the support of development partners and investment conditions for the public and private sector.