If a question like, when will the Gambia end rice importation is thrown at you what will be your answer?
May be most people would say that would never happen in the next 50 years.
But the good news is that the Hon. Minister for Agriculture Amie Fabureh in a visit to Turkey to attend the Multi-sectoral Economic Forum in Istanbul, from the 10th -13th of June 2021 had stumbled on an investor call Ali Soydan who is ready, and able to invest heavily on rice production in the country. And that would drastically reduce the importation of rice in The Gambia. For Hon: Fabureh, any investment on rice production in the country would dovetail into the country’s National Development Plan.
Ali Soydan is the manager for Soydan group and is a family business that has being in rice farming since 1956. Soydan group produces 30% of the rice Turkey consumes. According to Ali Soydan he iis capable of cultivating 2000 heaters annually.
Even though The Agriculture Minister was in Turkey for Multi-sectoral Economic Forum, she never loses sight of the needs of her ministry that is to ensure Gambia attained self-food sufficiency. She drove to the Turkey-Greece boarder to see Mr. Ali Soydan`s farm, a three hour drive from Istanbul. There was no hesitancy from the ministry of agriculture to invite Mr. Soydan to The Gambia to see the opportunities available.
The Turkish investor has honored the invitation of the ministry of agriculture and had already jetted into the country and visited Sapu, the country`s hub for rice production. He has met with Mr. Musa Darboe of Maroun farms. Darboe is also heavily investing in rice production in the country.
The meeting of the two investors in Sapu has been viewed as a success by many. They seem to be having the same ideologies and vision in terms of supporting the country to produce enough rice for consumption. Mr. Daboe of Maroun Farm exhibited a spirit of nationalism. He put all the cards on the table for the Turkey investor to see the local reality. “This is a huge opportunity for the Gambia to produce enough rice for local consumption and export to neighbouring countries,” the Maroun Farm general manager said. There is all indication that Darboe and Soydan are ready to salvage the Gambia from importation of rice very soon. The Turkey investor had already offered to invite some personnel from The Gambia to go to Turkey for about three months to his farm for a study tour. These would include agricultural engineers. To show his readiness to invest in the country, Soyden has already identified a house in Sapu to renovate and use as a residence for him and some of his people from Turkey.
“For me as a minister for agriculture, I want people who are ready to invest in the sector, that is why when I met him in Turkey and he expressed interest to come to Banjul and see what we are doing I wasted no time to invite him,” minister Fabureh said. “Any time I go out of this country, I look for opportunities like these,” Fabureh said. According to Hon. Fabureh, she is very impressed with the meeting between the Turkish investor and Mr. Darboe of Maroun Farm. “What this turkey’s investor wants to do in the country is in line with President Barrow’s National Development Plans,” the minister said.
The Gambia heavily depends on imported rice for its local consumption. Every year about 100,000 tons of rice is imported into the country. The Turkey’s investor believed that his partnership with Maroun Farm will help reduce the importation of rice in the country.
By: Modou Kanteh Information Officer MoA