Gambia to introduce OVOP concept.
by Amat Jeng
The introduction of One Village One Product (OVOP) is not new in sub-Saharan Africa, as Senegal, Nigeria and others have already adopted the concept. The Gambia being the latest in the sub-region to adopt the system, means the agricultural sector of the country with support from FAO and the government of Italy, is not only moving in the right direction of meeting quality product, but also on promoting the rural economic growth, improving the livelihood of the people and contributing to poverty reduction.
Speaking at the NaNA’s conference hall during the commencement of a four-day training that was held recently for key staff of the service providers, project staffs and core community facilitators in the OVOP concept, Amie Jallow Jatta, National Project coordinator, Food Security through Agriculture Commercialization , said the main objective of the Italian sponsored project, is that agricultural productivity, marketed output and incomes of project beneficiary, farmer-based organization and small scale agro-processes increase on a sustainable basis resulting in improved livelihood and food security. “It is also aimed at reducing rural poverty and household food insecurity on a sustainable basis,” she adds.
Mariatou Njie, FAO assistant rep, said: “The OVOP concept was first introduced in Japan in 1979, as a regional development program, where communities selectively produced goods with high added value. One village produces one competitive and staple product as a business to gain sales revenue to improve the standard of living for the residents of that village.”
According to her, there are three principles in the OVOP Movement. These she said are the creation of globally acceptable products/services based on local resources, self-reliance and creativity, and human resources development. “The feature common to all three principles is the emphasis on local ownership,” she adds.
“The first principle [creation of globally acceptable products] is best expressed through the motto, think globally, and act locally.”
In this process, local residents are expected to create globally marketable product and services which embody people’s pride in both material and cultural richness of their home villages or town. The tale behind any product or its development helps attract consumers’ attention. She notes: “Such local flavour will help add values to local products while the use of local human and material resources will help make economic activities sustainable.”
The merits that lie behind OVOP could not be over-emphasized, as the finding out of marketable products or services, self-reliance and creativity are crucial since local knowledge and instinct can aid the discovery of buried treasures in each village. Thus according to Mrs Njie, “Everything local is potentially valuable, but whether the potential turns into a reality depends on the initiative and effort of local people.”
She hints on OVOP’s emphasis on human resource development, saying regional development policies traditionally focuses on construction of infrastructures like roads and bridges, utilities and the like. “The OVOP movement, in contrast, emphasizes visionary local leadership with challenging and creative spirit. The success of any OVOP product/service largely depends on its quality-developed and improved by local people themselves,” she explained.
FAO, being the UN body in the Gambia, which is more engaged in agricultural development, appreciate the concept of OVOP, saying it “plays an important role in promoting the rural economic growth, improving the livelihood of the people and contributing to poverty reduction; that it promotes the production of good quality products demanded by both domestic and foreign markets and as well links to the tourism sector.” Consequently, more skills and jobs are developed and created, resulting in a reduction of urban migrations and an increase of the value added products.