As a prelude to the actual donor round table, the National Planning Commission, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Trade, Industry and Employment held a round table donor sensitisation forum with resident donors, partners and key sectors in agriculture.
Speaking at the forum, Mr. Alieu Ngum, the Chairperson of the National Planning Commission said that the agricultural sector must take the lead if the country is to attain sustained economic growth and poverty reduction as enshrined in the MDGs.
Noting that the sector employs about two third of the labour force, he said, low productivity and untapped potential within the sector deserve special attention for which the national agricultural investment programme had to address.
According to Mr. Ngum, “the evidence through the modelling applied indicates that with the current growth of the economy, the MDGs (poverty and hunger) will not be met by 2015, and thus to achieve such growth it has to be accelerated faster than historical levels”.
He further revealed that the National Agricultural Investment Programme (NAIP) is the national version of Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) with six priority programmes.
He disclosed that the national programme is to be implemented over 5 years, and will cost over 200 million dollars with the hope to revitalise the agricultural sector, and raise productivity and its contribution to national income and poverty reduction.
As a reminder, Mr Ngum said, the PRSP II has fine strategic development goals, including creating an enabling environment for poverty reduction, enhancing productivity and the productive capacities of the poor.
For him, all these cannot be realised without concerted focus and investment in agriculture, which is a primary source of income and food for a greater majority of the poor.
“Considering the important role agriculture has in enhancing economic growth and poverty, the government of The Gambia did not hasten to response to the AU/NEPAD formulated comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) by developing a well elaborated national programme for agricultural growth and investment to reduce poverty in the country,” Mr. Ngum concluded.