On Thursday 30th March, The ROOTS Project organized a day policy dialogue forum on The Role of The Gambia’s Farmer Cooperatives in Agricultural Development, and the Implications of the new National Cooperative Policy. The objective of the policy dialogue forum was to bring together stakeholders to share experiences in relation to farmer cooperative organizations in The Gambia, as well as examine closely the new national Cooperative Policy and its implications. The policy dialogue aimed to provide The ROOTS Project with a trajectory on how to deliver its mandate on strengthening existing farmer cooperatives and developing new ones. The expected outcome of the policy dialogue forum was enhanced knowledge regarding the new national Cooperative Policy, but also a foundation for The ROOTS Project to develop the capacity of farmer cooperatives along the rice and vegetable value chains.
The Importance of Farmer Cooperatives in Agricultural Development
Agriculture is an important sector for the Gambian economy, employing approximately 70% of the population and accounting for a significant portion of GDP. However, smallholder farmers in the country face numerous challenges such as lack of access to inputs, limited market access, and low productivity. In this context, farmer cooperatives have emerged as a key mechanism for improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and promoting agricultural development.
Strengthening Farmer Cooperatives in The Gambia
The ROOTS Project has been working to strengthen existing farmer cooperatives and develop new ones in The Gambia. This is done through capacity building activities, including training in leadership and governance, financial management, and marketing. The Project also provides support in accessing finance and markets.
The New National Cooperative Policy
The new National Cooperative Policy, launched in 2020, aims to provide a framework for the development of cooperatives in The Gambia. The policy recognizes the role of cooperatives in promoting inclusive economic growth, job creation, and poverty reduction. It also provides guidelines for the registration, management, and governance of cooperatives.
Implications of the New National Cooperative Policy
The policy dialogue forum provided an opportunity for stakeholders to examine closely the new national Cooperative Policy and its implications. One of the key implications identified was the need for cooperatives to comply with the new policy guidelines in order to access government support, including funding and technical assistance. The forum also highlighted the need for cooperatives to adopt best practices in governance and financial management in order to thrive and grow.
The policy dialogue forum organized by The ROOTS Project provided valuable insights into the role of farmer cooperatives in agricultural development in The Gambia, as well as the implications of the new National Cooperative Policy. The forum highlighted the importance of strengthening existing farmer cooperatives and developing new ones, as well as the need for cooperatives to comply with the new policy guidelines and adopt best practices in governance and financial management. Overall, the forum provided a foundation for The ROOTS Project to continue its work in developing the capacity of farmer cooperatives along the rice and vegetable value chains.