The Gambia Agriculture Engagement Note Fostering Agriculture-led Inclusive Growth.
After a change of government in 2017, The Gambia is in the process of rebuilding a democratic country whose citizens enjoy fundamental freedoms and economic prosperity. The 22-years of repression by the previous regime affected economic growth of the country. The macro-economic situation is challenging with high indebtedness while the country needs more resources to address many binding development constraints and improve the welfare of Gambians. While poverty has stagnated at 48 percent between 2010 and 2016, as indicated in the Integrated Households Survey, rural poverty has increased from 64 to 69 percent widening the gap with the urban areas. Poor Gambians derive their livelihood from the agricultural sector which has experienced a weak performance since 1995. Performance improvement in the agriculture sector is critical in boosting rural incomes, alleviating poverty and contributing to inclusive growth. Currently, the performance of the Gambia’s agricultural sector is lagging behind that of other West African countries. Only half of the Gambia’s food consumption needs is covered by the country’s agricultural production. The sector is affected by a number of agro-ecological, technical and policy constraints which are exacerbated by climate change. However, many opportunities are yet to be tapped to foster inclusive and sustainable agricultural growth. The 2018-21 National Development Plan (NDP) envisaged “a modern, sustainable, and marketoriented agriculture and livestock sector for increased food and nutrition security, income and employment generation, poverty reduction, and economic transformation,” placing agriculture as a priority sector to achieve the country’s development goals. The World Bank’s Gambia Agriculture Engagement Note has been prepared to review the sector’s performance, challenges and opportunities and to identify priority areas where the Bank: i) could work with the Government to improve the sector’s policy framework through key policy reforms for more efficiency in the use of scarce resources, and to improve the enabling environment for the development of the agri-food sector, and ii) could support public investments to increase productivity, develop value chains and improve the competitiveness of the agri-food sector. We hope that the dialogue initiated during the preparation of this Note will pave the way for a strengthened partnership between The Gambia and the World Bank in meeting the goals of the NDP and accelerating the transformation of the agri-food sector. With the right interventions, the agri-food sector can be the engine for inclusive and sustainable growth in the Gambia.