Gambia’s minister of agriculture, Omar Amadou Jallow, has told delegates attending the third regional meeting on agricultural productivity that despite the gains recorded, West and Central Africa is facing challenges such as inadequate food supply and the increasing number of youths leaving the continent in search of greener pastures.Jallow spoke Wednesday at the opening of a regional meeting of agricultural experts from 13 West African countries, under the West African Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) spearheaded by ECOWAS.
He said public private partnership, youth employment and entrepreneurship in agriculture, women’s empowerment must be the engine for the next-phase proposed West African Agricultural Transformation Programme.
The new initiative is expected to develop the continent’s agricultural sector so that African farmers will graduate from supply of raw materials to markets in developed countries.
Dr. Ablasse Bilgo, representing the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, said the WAAPP has improved the status of women gardeners in urban Gambia. Since the project was initiated in 13 countries in West Africa, it has impacted positively on the lives of 8.5 million beneficiaries, according to the ECOWAS Commission official.
The permanent secretary at Gambia’s ministry of agriculture in Banjul, Sait Drammeh, said WAAP has become a household name not only in the project implementation areas, but countrywide due to the project’s approach and the outcomes registered. The project has upgraded seed centres in rural and urban farming communities, he added.