State House’s Director of Press and Public Relations February 2019 Briefing

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From the Office of the President, State House, Banjul

Agriculture

President Barrow continues to promote his government’s policy on agriculture to transform the sector from a rudimentary to mechanised farming to make agribusiness a key economic player. To realize this policy goal, the government is ensuring that farmers’ access to inputs and farm implement is given priority as the 2019 rainy season approaches.

The Ministry of Agriculture in partnership with National Food Security Processing and Marketing Corporation is procuring a total of 7500 metric tonnes of fertilizer for the 2019 rainy season.

Also, with support from Japan, an extra 600 tonnes of fertilizer and 30 tonnes of assorted seeds will be available to farmers this year.

Cooperatives groups, Farmers Associations and Cluster communities in eleven (11) districts from four(4) regions of the Upper River, Central River, North Bank and the Lower River Regions will benefit from 260 agricultural equipments ranging from rice and coarse grain threshers, Milling machines, power tiller accessories, pumping machines and five (5) 20ft Container Freezers. These will be provided through the Ministry of Agriculture as part of the Japanese support, along with the Agriculture Value Chain Development project and the National Agricultural Land Management and Development Project (NEMA).

To encourage and empower farmers to have their own seeds, the Ministry of Agriculture in partnership with FAO through European Union funding will procure certified seeds from Gambian seed growers. Locally, 56% of Groundnut seed, 71% of maize seed and 100% of Findi seed needed are available this year.

In addition, over eleven thousand (11,457) Households identified in the URR, CRR North and South, LRR and the NBR will be given FAO procured seed and fertilizer. Out of these 25% are female headed and 75% of male headed households who are in need of inputs support for the 2019/20 cropping season.

In another development, the President has been briefed on discussions between The Gambia government and Egypt to create jobs for the youth through agriculture. 3000 hectares of land has been identified for rice cultivation and poultry farming in Nianija in the Central River Region. This followed President Barrow’s visit to Egypt in December 2018.

Finance and Economy

An Economic Council under the Office of the President has been set up to provide regular updates to the President on the macroeconomic situation of the country. It has been noted that while the economic outlook is promising, the prices of basic commodities are affected by world prices.

Meanwhile, the Deputy head of the IMF, Mr Zhang in a meeting with President Barrow appreciated The Gambia’s performance in the past two years, while encouraging the country to continue on the way it has started maintain good performance in the economic and social sectors, creating stability, and boosting business to achieve prosperity. He also commended The Gambia for the Senegambia Bridge and signing the Africa Continental Free Trade Zone agreement in connecting and promoting regional integration. He gave assurance of coordination of international assistance to support the country’s reform programmes.

Human Rights

UNOWAS representative, Dr. Muhammad Ibun Chambas expressed his pleasure with the progress of work with the Commissions, and hailed the Gambians serving in the various commissions including the TRRC, CRC and the NHR Commissions. He was impressed that the government made funds available for the CRC to conduct outside consultations with Gambians to strengthen the institutions as part of the electoral reforms.

President Barrow in his response said the reform programmes are meant to be modernized and sustainable in an atmosphere that is conducive for the participation of citizens.

Security Sector

President Barrow has assigned the Ministry of Justice to coordinate the activities of the National Security Steering Committee. Meanwhile, a National Security Sector Policy has been prepared and it is due to be launched in June 2019. Also the Head of State has also directed for the upgrading of the military barracks in the country.

Land Administration

A task force comprising representatives from Governor’s office WCR, Ministries of Interior, Justice and Lands has reported calm in a land dispute between Gunjur and Berending communities.

Civil Service Reform

The Office of the President led a retreat with heads of subvented institutions to create better delivery of services. Policy issues to improve impact and functional institutions were discussed to avoid duplication and minimize wastage.

Energy and Petroleum

British Petroleum (BP)signed an off-shore petroleum license. The President has been informed that BP will be provided with exclusive right to drill and explore prospects in Offshore Block A1.

Governance

In addition to a face to face interaction between Cabinet led by the President, and the Constitutional Review Commission, a written contribution will be submitted to the CRC for consideration.

Also the Department of Strategic Policy Delivery at the Office of the President presented to Cabinet its strategy to collaborate, coordinate and unlock blockages in the delivery of the Presidential Priorities of the NDP. The Department will also support the Presidency on evidence based decision making using data and facts.

Health

The President has been briefed about ongoing consultations with Qatari Charity Foundation to support the government build a hospital in the Greater Banjul Area, in line with making professional health care services accessible to the people.

Upcoming engagements

President Barrow will attend the 14th session of the OIC Islamic Summit scheduled for the 30th May to 1st June 2019.

Meanwhile, The Gambia has deferred the hosting of the OIC summit from 2019 to the year 2022, after a series of high level consultations with other African countries, to allow it more time to prepare for a successful hosting. The preparations include the construction of the needed infrastructures for the summit.

Thank you. I will now take your questions, please identify your name and the media your represent here.

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