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The Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Dr. Demba Sabally, recently handed over a site for the construction of cold storage in Soma, Lower River Region (LRR), costing approximately 2.85 million dalasis for a maximum period of six (6) months.
The construction of this facility is under the project: Resilience of Organisations for Transformative Smallholder Agriculture project (ROOTS) which is under the Ministry of Agriculture and funded by IFAD and The Gambia government.
Speaking at the event, Hon. Sabally highlighted the aim of the storage facility, which according to him, is geared towards minimizing post-harvest losses encountered by the communities’ vegetable producers, as well as strengthening their capacity to negotiate favorable prices for the purchase of their products without the imminent threat of perishability.
Hon. Sabally underscored the importance of the cold storage facilities, relating it to the significant post-harvest losses encountered by vegetable growers, mostly women around the country.
“You will recall that this process started last October, when my Ministry agreed with IFAD, the principal donor of the ROOTS Project, to construct three cold storage facilities around the country, on a pilot basis, due to the urgent need to address the problem of high post-harvest losses across the country,” he recalled.
As a result, he stated that all six marketing federations around the country were invited to submit proposals for their Regions, which were evaluated by an Independent Review Committee, and Sofanyama was selected as one of the successful federations.
For his part, Mamour Alieu Njie, project director, ROOTS, said that under the ROOTS project, they have the mandate to construct 15 cold storage facilities across the country.
“So after a bit of background research, we concluded that the best way was to work with the marketing federation,” he revealed.
He further disclosed that last October, they came to Soma and had a discussion with them to agree on the modalities after which they submitted a proposal that the National Review Committee found acceptable.
The ROOTS Project Director advised the beneficiaries that the Cold Storage is for them to own and manage sustainably.
“That is why we asked them to come up with a proposal and more importantly to make a counterpart contribution which amounts to 20% of the facility,” he concluded.