A four-year project undertaken by Taiwan in diplomatic ally the Gambia has helped triple rice production in the African country, an official with a -government-funded agency said recently, adding that a new rice program is planned.
Between 2009 and this year, Taiwan assisted the Gambia in expanding rice production to address food scarcity, said Lee Pai-po (李柏浡), deputy secretary-general of the Taipei-based International Cooperation and Development Fund.
Before Taiwan initiated the program, Lee said, total rice production in the Gambia was only 25,000 tonnes per year.
However, production has now increased to 80,000 tonnes per year, which is enough to feed 1 million people, he said, adding that there was still room for improvement as the Gambia has a population of 1.8 million.
Since the project has improved rice yields, a new assistance program will follow, Lee said.
In its initial stage, the new project aims to maintain current rice production in the Gambia and prevent local rice farmers from switching to cash crops such as peanuts, he said.
The new program is also designed to expand the amount of land used for rice production and cultivating rice seeds, Lee said.
Taiwan has shared its expertise in the cultivation of premium rice seeds and irrigation techniques with the Gambia, he said.
Taiwan has four allies in Africa: the Gambia, Burkina Faso, Sao Tome and Principe, and Swaziland. For several decades, Taipei has offered assistance to African countries through projects aimed at improving industrial development and humanitarian emergency assistance.