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Statement by Gambia to the 24th Session of IFAD's Governing Council

MADAME CHAIRPERSON
PRESIDENT FAWZI AL-SULTAN
FELLOW GOVERNORS,
DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

PLEASE ALLOW ME THE OPPURTUNUITY TO CONGRATULATE THE CHAIRPERSON FOR THE SUCCESSFUL GUIDANCE DURING THE DELIBERATION OF THIS TWO-DAY SESSION. I AM PERSONALLY CONFIDENT THAT YOUR ABLE STEWARDSHIP COMBINED WITH OUR FULLEST CONTRIBUTION WILL BRING THIS MEETING TO A SUCCESSFUL CONCLUSION AND TOGETHER ACHIEVE THE GOALS WE SET FOR IFAD.

MADAME CHAIRPERSON, ALLOW ME TO PLACE ON RECORD MY ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND GRATITUDE AND THAT OF MY GOVERNMENT FOR THE IMPRESSIVE PERFORMANCE AND ACHIEVEMENTS OF IFAD ESPECIALLY UNDER THE LEADERSHIP AND VIGOROUS EFFORT OF PRESIDENT FAWI AL-SULTAN. THE PRESIDENT’S STATEMENT WHICH GAVE A LUCID ACCOUNT OF THE DIVERSE UNDERTAKINGS OF IFAD AND THEIR SUCCESSFUL OUTCOMES BOTH QUANTITATIVELY, AND QUALITATIVELY AT IMPROVING THE WELL-BEING OF THE MEMBER STATES’ LESS PRIVILEGED POPULATION HAS SERVED TO REAFFIRM THE CONFIDENCE AND MANDATE REPOSED ON HIM. THE GAMBIA FOR ITS PART, IS GRATEFUL AND MOST APPRECIATIVE OF HER LONG ESTABLISHED BENEFICIAL RELATIONS WITH IFAD. THROUGH THE SUPPORT OF SEVERAL PROJECTS -PAST AND ON-GOING, THE GAMBIA HAS BEEN GAINING GROUNDS IN REGISTERING POSITIVE GAINS TOWARDS THE ACHIEVEMENT OF FOOD SECURITY.

MADAME CHAIRPERSON, IFAD HAS BECOME A HOUSEHOLD NAME IN THE GAMBIA, MORE ESPECIALLY IN THE RURAL AREAS. THE GAMBIA POPULATION IN GENERAL, AND THE VULNERABLE WOMEN, CHILDREN AND POOR SEGMENTS ARE APPRECIATIVE OF THE IMMENSE AND INVALUABLE SUPPORT THEY HAD RECEIVED AND CONTINUE TO RECEIVE IN RAISING THEIR INCOME, IMPROVING THEIR NUTRITION AND HEALTH STATUS.

THE STEADFAST COMMITMENT DEMONSTRATED AND PURSUED BY IFAD TO ACCELERATE THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF THE GAMBIA IS AMPLY MANIFESTED IN THE SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF TWO ON-GOING PROJECTS NAMELY THE LOWLAND AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME (LADEP) WHOSE OVERALL OBJECTIVE IS THE SUSTAINABLE IMPROVEMENT OF TRADITIONAL RICE PRODUCTION AS A MEANS OF ENHANCING FOOD SECURITY FOR IMPOVERISHED RURAL HOUSEHOLDS AND THE RURAL FINANCE AND COMMUNITY INITIATIVE PROJECT.

THE LOWLAND AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME HAS ALREADY REGISTERED SIGNIFICANT IMPACT BY HELPING TO RECLAIM ADDITIONAL LAND FOR CULTIVATION AND INCREASING YIELDS. THE SUCCESS OF THIS PROGRAMME CAN AMONG OTHER THINGS BE ATTRIBUTED TO ITS FOCUS ON THE USE OF SIMPLE AND ADAPTABLE TECHNOLOGIES AND ITS EMPHASIS ON FOSTERING COMMUNITY AND FARMER PARTICIPATION AS A MEANS OF STRENTHENING COMMUNITY ORGANISATION CONCERN WITH LAND AND WATER MANAGEMENT.

THE OTHER PROJECT,THE RURAL FINANCE AND COMMUNITY INITIATIVES PROJECT (RFCIP) STARTED ABOUT TWO YEARS AGO AND IS PROGRESSING SATISFACTORILY.THE PROJECT IS WORKING CLOSELY WITH THE CENTRAL BANK OF THE GAMBIA, NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS AS WELL AS COMMUNITIES TO POPULARIZE VILLAGE BANKS OTHERWISE KNOWN AS VISACAS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY.ALREADY, THERE ARE ABOUT 51 VISACAS IN THE GAMBIA; THREE OF WHICH WERE OPENED BY ME ONLY LAST WEEK. THESE WERE ALL DESIGNED AND BUILT BY THE RURAL FINANCE AND COMMUNITY INITIATIVE PROJECT FUNDED BY IFAD AND THE GOVERNMENT. IT IS HEARTENING TO OBSERVE THAT ALL THESE THREE VISACAS SAVED ABOUT D7000(USD500) WHICH IS ABOVE THE STANDARD REQUIREMENT FOR THE RECOGNITION OF A VISACA. THIS IS A DEMONSTRATION OF THE CAREFUL AND PARTICIPATORY PROCESS ADOPTED BY THE PROJECT. FOR US IN THE GAMBIA, THE ISSSUE OF DEVELOPING APPROPRIATE RURAL FINANCING MECHANISMS IS ONE OF THREE NATIONAL PRIORITIES FOR MOVING AGRICULTURE FORWARD. THE OTHER TWO BEING SOIL FERTILITY MAINTENANCE AND WATER CONTROL MANAGEMENT.

MR. CHAIRMAN, IT MUST BE NOTED THAT IFAD’S SPECIAL PROGRAMME FOR SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA IS UNIQUE AND STRATEGIC. ITS FOCUS ON DROUGHT AND DESERTIFICATION CONTROL PROVIDES THE FRAMEWORK FOR THE SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCE BASE, AND HENCE THE ALLEVIATION OF POVERTY AND ATTAINMENT OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT. THESE ARE THE ULTIMATE FUNDAMENTAL GOALS THAT BESTOW ON IFAD ITS DISTINGUISHED CHARACTERISTIC AND RENOWNED STANDING. THUS IFAD IS IN NO SMALL MEASURE CONTRIBUTING TO THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE CONTINENT AND IMPROVING THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FOR THE GENERAL BENEFIT OF HUMAN KIND. THE PROGRESS REALISED IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROGRAMME TO DATE IS ENCOURAGING AND JUSTIFIES THE INCORPORATION OF THE PROGRAMME OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGIES INTO ON-GOING MAINSTREAM COUNTRY PROGRAMMES. SUCH PROGRAMMES LIKE STRATEGY FOR POVERTY ALLEVIATION (SPA), FOOD SECURITY AND RURAL FINANCE WILL LAY THE SOLID FOUNDATIONS FOR LONG-TERM SUSTAINABLE GROWTH, PEACE STABILITY AND DEVELOPMENT. SUPPORT TO THESE PRIORITY AREAS ARE VITAL FOR EFFECTIVE GRASS-ROOT PARTICIPATION, COMMUNITY CAPACITY BUILDING AND PEOPLE-CENTRED DEVELOPMENT AND EMPOWERMENT. IT IS, THEREFORE, APPROPRIATE TO APPEAL TO IFAD TO MOBILISE MORE RESOURCES TO CHANNEL TO THESE PRIORITY AREAS.

LET ME ALSO ASSURE THE COUNCIL THAT ALL THE EFFORTS AND RESOURCES BEING EXPENDED TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF LIVE OF THE RURAL POPULATION OF THE DEVELOPING WORLD ARE EXTREMELY WORTHWHILE. DEVELOPMENT IS A LONG-TERM PROCESS, IFAD WILL THEREFORE, CONTINUE TO BE A SOURCE OF SUCCOUR AND STRENGTH TO SEE US THROUGH THE TRANSFORMATION FROM FRAGILE DEVELOPING TO ROBUST GROWING ECONOMIES.

MADAME CHAIRMAN, ALLOW ME TO RE-ECHO SOME SALIENT POINTS RAISED BY SOME FORMER SPEAKERS. FIRSTLY, THAT POVERTY CAN BEST BE ALLEVIATED AND PERHAPS ERADICATED IF WE FOCUS ON PEOPLE. INDEED IT IS ONLY PEOPLE WHO CAN ALLEVIATE THEIR OWN POVERTY- SO DEVELOPMENT OPERATORS MUST SEE THEMSELVES AS CATALYST AND MUST DEVELOP THE NECESSARY CONFIDENCE IN THE ABILITIES OF THE POOR. SECONDLY, IN ORDER THAT WE ALLEVIATE POVERTY, THER MUST NECESSARY BE GROWTH. WE MUST REVERSE THE DECLINING TREND IN INVESTMENTS IN AGRICULTURE, THE KINGPIN OF OUR ECONOMIES IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. THIRDLY, A FRIEND OF MINE FROM THE WEST WHO MAY NOT HAVE KNOWN HUNGER RECENTLY TOLD ME THAT THE FIGHT TO OVERCOME POVERTY MUST BEGIN WITH OUR STOMACHS AD ONLY THEN CAN WE EFFECTIVELY ADDRESS THE OTHER LEVELS.

ON THIS NOTE MADAME. CHAIRMAN, LET ME CONCLUDE BY EXPRESSING SINCEREST GRATITUDE AND SATISFACTION WITH THE ROLE THAT IFAD IS PLAYING TO MAKE THE GAMBIA A BETTER AND SELF-RELIANT NATION AND THE DEVELOPING WORLD A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE IN. HIGHEST APPRECIATION’S GO TO PRESIDENT AL-SULTAN AND MY FELLOW GOVERNORS FOR THEIR INSPIRING LEADERSHIP AND WISE DECISIONS IN DIRECTING THE RESOURCES OF THE FUND TOWARDS THE ERADICATION OF POVERTY AND REALISATION OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT.

I THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR KIND ATTENTION.

SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR AGRICULTURE THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA
HON. HASSAN G. SALLAH