New project will restore watersheds and boost farm production in the Gambia

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New project will restore watersheds and boost farm production in the Gambia

Press release number: IFAD 25/04

Rome 15 July 2004 – Farmers trapped in poverty because of declining soil fertility and low crop yields will benefit from a new eight-year project to restore degraded lands in The Gambia. The project will target 12,000 farmers throughout the country, who depend on upland crops and lowland rice cultivation.

The USD 17.5 million project will be financed partly by a USD 7.1 million loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). A further USD 7.1 million will be contributed by the African Development Bank. The loan agreement was signed today at IFAD headquarters by Yusupha Kah, Ambassador of the Republic of The Gambia to the Kingdom of Belgium, and IFAD President Lennart Båge.

Low crop yields have resulted from problems including salt and acid build-up that decrease soil fertility. In addition, runoff and erosion from the upper parts of the watershed endanger crop production in the lowlands. The project will help farmers to reverse this damage and to form farmers’ organizations that can develop a coordinated approach to managing the watershed environment.

“Population pressure and the limited availability of land have forced farmers to grow crops on damaged soils,” said Leopold Sarr, IFAD’s Country Programme Manager for the Gambia. “This project will help them to use farming methods that preserve the land, allowing it to recover its fertility so that crop production increases in the long term.”

With this loan, IFAD will have financed seven projects in The Gambia for a total of approximately USD 39 million.

IFAD is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to combating rural poverty in the most disadvantaged regions of the world. Since 1978, IFAD has financed 653 projects and programmes in 115 countries and territories for a total commitment of approximately USD 8.1 billion in loans. Through these projects, about 250 million rural people have been supported in their efforts to overcome poverty.