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Agricultural Policies and Performance in the Gambia

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The paper examines the performance of Gambian agriculture in relation to the past and present government policies that have been implemented for the development of the sector. Gambian agriculture is still largely based on the traditional system of shifting cultivation using very small independent farming units. Yields are generally low. Post-independence agricultural policy focused on institution building and hence encouraged the creation of agricultural institutions, kept producer prices low and highly subsidized agricultural inputs. Gambian agriculture has been unable to respond greatly to these inducements and other initiatives as yields remain practically stagnant and production revolves around a declining trend. The faulty implementation of subsidized credit programme resulted in regressive income transfer to a small group of influential Gambians who defaulted on large loans. The result was a weakening of the financial system and the collapse of development banks. There was a policy turn-around during the economic recovery programme and the subsequent programme for sustained development. Agricultural input subsidies are being progressively removed to assure long term policy sustainability though producer prices are still lower than the free market levels. Agricultural employment policy focuses on self-employment and the development of informal sector employment. As the size of formal agriculture is small, the wage policy had no immediate relevance and is under consideration for removal.

Affiliations: 1: United Nations Development Programme, P.O. Box 553, Banjul, the Gambia


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