Shelter for Life, USDA engage stakeholders on LIFFT-Cashew project

Shelter for Life, USDA engage stakeholders on LIFFT-Cashew project


The Shelter for Life and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently met with officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and other relevant stakeholders from the government on the “Linking Infrastructure, Finance and Farms to Cashew (LIFFT-Cashew) in The Gambia.

The event held at the Ministry Agriculture conference hall in Banjul, was attended by the officials from the Shelter for Life , USDA and the Ministry.

At the event, Abba Sankareh, Registrar of Cooperatives, revealed that the USDA LIFFT-Cashew is financed by United States Department of Agriculture and implemented by Shelter for Life.

The project dubbed – “Linking Infrastructure, Finance and Farms to Cashew” (LIFFT-Cashew), he reminded, is a six-year project currently operating in Senegal, the Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau (SeGaBi) with the goal of developing and upgrading cashew value chain linkages necessary to support and integrate regional trade network for the cashew value chain.

Mr. Sankareh recalled that for the past four years, the Shelter for Life (SFL) has been supporting cooperative development in The Gambia through extensive capacity building, governance, financial literacy and good agricultural practices.

He informed that the USDA/LIFFT-Cashew has built and rehabilitated 6 Cashew nut warehouses in this intervention areas.

He spoke about some other intervention of the project, saying SFL has been active in giving grants for cooperative institutional support.

“SFL has also been given grants for cooperative institutional support, 11 chainsaws distributed to support cashew tree pruning; we also donated computers to cooperative union in a bid to improve proper record keeping.”

He revealed that USDA/LIFFT-Cashew is cognisant of the fact that for cooperative unions to thrive and become sustainable, they must have sound regulatory environment in place as well as embrace cooperative principles of economic participation, member owned and managed.

“Hence the rational behind reviewing and amending the old cooperative Act to a more updated one that embraces the 8 cooperative principles and building a model based on member led cooperative development.”

He informed that after the request from the Ministry of Agriculture, Shelter for Life responded positively by financing the consultancy part for review and amendment of The Gambia cooperative Act 1990.

The revitalisation of cooperative, he added, is essential in creating access to inputs, markets to sell farm produce, enhance farmer representation in key decision making at the heart of government.

Thus, he said during their consultative meetings the consultant is expected to incorporate cooperatives representative expectations, comments and recommendations.

Those, he believes, is meant to not only boost ownership of the legal document, but also take into account concerns raised by market actors.

 

Mr. Fakhriddiu Kuziboev, Chief of Party USDA LIFFT-Cashew project, said the project will also be engaged in agriculture and work with the cooperatives, saying the USDA Cashew project has been contributing to the sector through nine activities, including mainly the cooperatives development

The main component, he said, is the access to Finance and to facilitate market access.

“The cooperate development is the one of the main foundation for the agriculture development as well. Therefore, we were very much privileged to be able to be given this opportunity to cooperate with the government and more specifically with the Minister of Agriculture who is very supportive to this sector.” he disclosed.

The project, he added, has been contributing in the Cashew sector by expanding the storage spaces and construction of new ones and also rehabilitating some of the existing ones.

He also revealed that the agriculture department is one of the components of the project, saying over 4,000 farmers have been trained on the good agriculture practices and these components are being continued through 2025.

Mod Secka, Permanent Secretary (PS) at the Ministry of Agriculture, said the government has been working towards revitaliaing the co-operative unions in the country.

“Now, some of you would be interested to know that a policy exists; a co-operative policy has been completed.”

However, he said in addition to the policy, the Act is being worked on and eventually if passed, the government will provide the legal basis, and then what will be remaining will be the institutional components that will implement both the policy and the Act.

“And in that, the government has already taken the decision to create the Directorate of Co-operative, and they will be working with the Central Bank as well as the Ministry of Justice.” he indicated.

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