The WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger started on 29 July its second mission to The Gambia to develop a resource mobilization project to foster institutional markets for smallholder agriculture. The project aims at integrating smallholder farming with social safety nets, such as school feeding and poverty eradication initiatives. During the mission, the team of experts will finalize the document of the project and validate it with stakeholders.
The preparation of this project started in April, when the WFP Centre of Excellence Brazil sent a team to The Gambia to make an assessment, prepare the concept note of the project, and begin the mobilization of partners. The WFP Centre worked with the government, the World Food Programme Country Office, and the Regional Bureau Dakar to integrate the home-grown school feeding programme within a broader social protection agenda and find financial solutions to strengthen its component of local food procurement from smallholder farmers.
Igor Carneiro and Bruno Magalhães, experts of the WFP Centre of Excellence’s Programme Unit, have been working on this proposal since April. This is part of the progress of the WFP Centre of Excellence’s technical assistance to The Gambia. The country government conducted a study visit to Brazil in 2014 to learn about the Brazilian school feeding experience, and after five years of cooperation they requested the WFP Centre to aid them in finding solutions to fund the home-grown school feeding programme.
The Gambia only produces 50 percent of the food it currently demands, leaving the country dependent on food imports. Women are recognized as main staple food producers in the country, but gender disparities in education and access to credit and land make it harder for them to compete in the agricultural sector.
To increase income as well as food and nutrition security of vulnerable rural people in the country, the Ministry of Agriculture has called upon an intersectoral group of government entities, UN agencies and several NGOs to develop a project proposal to apply for international grants on food security and agriculture development.
The project will work on both the supply and demand sides of the Gambian food system. It seeks market creation for an enhanced and diversified smallholder farming production, with a gender-sensitive focus. WFP Country Office in The Gambia and WFP Centre of Excellence in Brazil have partnered to lead project design actions. UNFPA also participate as important technical stakeholders.
The rationale for the value chain support is to link agriculture development to the ongoing home-grown school feeding programme as a first sustainable market access for smallholder farmers. The project will target vulnerable smallholder farmers in the rural areas in three of The Gambia’s regions. The entry point will be to promote crop planning, access to production and post-harvest inputs, and reduce the climate-related risks facing poor smallholders. By increasing their capacity to supply the school feeding market, the project will support them in improving livelihoods.
The mission of the WFP Centre of Excellence Brazil to The Gambia will end in September, after finalizing the project and submitting it to potential financers.