Gambia’s Minister of Agriculture Omar A. Jallow has set a two-year time frame for the country to be rice self-sufficient. “With the present intervention in the rice sector, we hope that we can be self-sufficient in the next two years,” he told journalists during a press conference held at his office in Banjul.
Gambia has of one the highest per caput consumption rates (117 kg) in the world and the country continues to import tens of thousands of rice every year. Rice productivity is expected to surge this year as a lot of efforts have been injected by the government and the private sector.
During a recent regional meeting held recently in Banjul, the country’s Agriculture Minister reminded the gathering that Gambia government has identified rice as a major food security crop, a national rice development strategy (NRDS) for 2015-2024 has been set up with the objective of creating a competitive rice industry.
The Gambia has 216,121 ha of lowland ecologies suitable for rice production.Thus the NRDS is founded on a vision of ‘’self–sufficiency in rice production’’ by the year 2024. The overall goal of the NRDS purpose is to enhance the enabling environment for systematic exploitation of the vast natural resource potentials, mitigation of the priority constraints in the resource base, provision of production oriented technologies suitable for broad-based participation and adoption by the majority of rice farmers for efficient rice production.
The over-arching objective of the NRDS (2015-2024) is the creation of a market-led, commercialized, efficient, competitive and dynamic rice industry which maximizes enhancement of food security and poverty reduction. Thus, based on the equal emphasis on intensification in both upland and lowland production systems and expansion of lowland production systems the NRDS is projected to achieve a production scope and target of 322,600 tonnes of milled rice in 2024 with sustained commitment of scientific and technical personnel and financial and human resource provision by the government.