Stretching 450km inland along the Gambia river, The Gambia is surrounded by Senegal except for its 60km beachfront on the Atlantic Ocean.
The economy relies upon agriculture, tourism and remittances.
Poverty and food insecurity are widespread, and nearly half its estimated 2 million people live in poverty. Forty per cent of inhabitants live in rural areas where 73.9 per cent live below the poverty line.
Over 60 per cent of Gambians depend on farming for their livelihood. Farmers and agricultural workers, especially women and young people, form a large part of the poor and extremely poor. Many are illiterate, and lack knowledge, skills, economic opportunities and access to productive resources such as credit, land ownership, and support services.
Weather-induced crop failures and shortages of cash often force farmers to sell part of their produce immediately after harvest, when prices are at their lowest, and buy grain at high prices during the hungry season (July–September). They are caught in a circle of low income, risk aversion and the use of low-output technologies
Farmers’ challenges include:
- reliance on rainfed production;
- depleted soils and climate change;
- salt water incursion;
- illiteracy, impeding adoption of improved technologies;
- economic exclusion of youth and women;
- poor access to good quality inputs and appropriate financial services; and
- weak organization of farm-to-market value chains.
Traditionally, women do not own or control land, yet are more than half of the agricultural labour force. They lead production of rice, vegetables, fruit and small livestock, without access to credit.
IFAD strategy in The Gambia is to contribute to the reduction of poverty, food insecurity, vulnerability and youth unemployment in rural communities. Particular attention is paid to gender, nutrition, and climate change,
Activities focus on agricultural and rural development and aim to open up on- and off-farm employment opportunities for young people, women and men.
We work with traditional kafos (collectively run village groups) to enable IFAD-supported projects to reach out to the most vulnerable households.
Key activities include:
- supporting rice and vegetable value chain development, including strengthening the capacity of farmers, community organisations and their members;
- strengthening access to markets for agricultural products; and
- adding value to rice and vegetable production by strengthening value chain participants, business development, and through a Capital Investment Stimulation Fund.
IFAD also participates in development initiatives designed to make land and water supplies more resilient to climate change, notably for producing rice and vegetables.
Over 60 per cent of Gambians depend on agriculture for their livelihood.
Women are over half the agricultural labour force and produce around 40 per cent of total agricultural output.