Agriculture is the most important sector in The Gambian economy and one of the priority areas of development, particularly in the new global climate of price escalation of staple food items and oil.
The Gambia has 558,000 hectares of very good quality arable land, of which only 200,000 hectares are currently under rain fed agricultural production.
The Gambia has great potential for irrigated agriculture, with fresh water from the River Gambia, rain water if harvested, and fossil water that can be drilled. It also has a weather pattern that is suitable for almost all production. The Department of State for Agriculture. , within its mandate to develop and modernize agriculture, will readily give all necessary support and incentives to any serious investor, who wants to invest and operate in the sector and support Government’s efforts to develop the sector.
The sector also offers great potential for value adding processing and transformation. The relevant technical departments, the technical expertise and trained personnel, are all readily available in the country: the agricultural sector has the highest number of graduates, degree and PHD holders in the country. All agricultural goods entering the national territory enter free of charge ie no custom duty is charged. of all agricultural products, for both the local and international markets.
The Gambia is at the implementation stage of the Vision 2020 blueprint, and wants to become an “export oriented agricultural nation”, and transform and process all such products, for the local and international market, through a reputable and high quality made in The Gambia brand.
There are five key areas that can be exploited in the Gambia.
- Fruits: mangoes, citrus, bananas, avocadoes, guava, cashews, oil palm, coconuts, etc
- Large range vegetables: onions, potatoes, lettuce, cabbage, garlic, tomatoes, mushrooms, peas, cowpeas, beans, etc
- Lowers: chrysanthemums, orchids, roses etc. Landscape gardening:-parks, private homes, hotels.
- Field crops: suitable in all ecologies of the country
- Cereal grains: rice, maize, sorghum, wheat, etc
- Grain legumes: groundnuts, cowpeas, soya beans, sesame, etc
- Root crops: cassava, sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots
- Oil trees: cashew, oil palm, coconuts
- Cattle: – meat and dairy. There are over 400,000 cattle in the Gambia
- Cross breeding with exotic European breeds of cattle for increased beef and milk production tested and proven possible by the ITC (International Trypanotolerance Centre-Banjul) NB: over 80% of milk and milk products are imported.
- Small ruminants: there are over 300,000 small ruminants in the Gambia-sheep, goat, swine, rabbits-selection and breeding possible. Large local and international market
- Draft animals: horses, donkeys- selection and breeding possible
- Poultry: fowls, ducks, pheasant and turkey: egg and white meat. NB: hotel consumption of eggs 20,000 daily excluding local needs. There is a large importation of poultry products.
- Land preparation: tractors, harrows, seeders, etc (558,000ha. of arable land)
- Irrigation: solar panels, pumps and piping, etc (tidal and pump irrigation)
- Post harvest machinery: harvesters, threshers, milling machines etc.(300,000MT of grain, 150,000MT of peanuts)
- Plant protection equipment: sprayers(manual and motorized-ground and aerial)
- Storage and packaging materials: cold storage (200,000MT of vegetables and fruits), grain silos, poultry and meat packaging materials, grain and flour packaging materials.
- Animal feed plants: there is an acute need for poultry and fish (aquaculture) feeds.
- Agro pharmaceuticals: there is an urgent need for veterinary drugs for the animal industry.
- Pesticides and fertilizer:
- Pesticide plants are needed for the manufacture or fabrication of pre and post harvest pesticides. The fertilizer requirement of the country is enormous to satisfy the national need of over 20,000MT. Organic fertilizers (Manure) could be manufactured as a result of the large quantity of vegetative plant material available free of charge all year round.
- Vegetable and fruit processing plants: there is an acute need for processing plants to reduce losses in the industry as well as reduce imports. Cashew is also widely produced.
- Grain processing and packing: there is a vast potential for the establishment of plants for the manufacture of threshing and milling machines etc.
- Abattoirs: modern abattoirs are needed to exploit the vast livestock resources of the country. Exports could be enhanced.
- Oil mills: The Gambia has the potential to produce 250,000MT of groundnuts in addition to 40,000MT of sesame. Modern mills are needed to process these products.
- Tanneries: with over 700,000 livestock, leather from these animals after slaughter is generally wasted. Hoofs, intestines and bone could be transformed to other uses for sale.
- Dairy: cross breeds between EU cattle and the native breed “Ndama” have yielded 10-15 litres of milk per day depending on the management.
- The Supply and Distribution of agricultural inputs; marketing of agricultural produce; trade fares etc.