is a staple food crop grown and imported to The Gambia, the
base for most dishes. Grown in the rainy season, it looks
like grain before processing, which involves pounding in a
mortar with a pestle. There are several varieties available
at the market, usually costing about (£0.60 pence) per standard
Home Grown Variety:
The staple crop
is grown in what is called a 'faro' (rice paddy fields). The traditional
type, grown on the uplands and swamps long before the arrival of the
colonial powers, is short grained and it has been left to women to
cultivate this variety. It is cultivated as a subsistence crop and a
small amount sold as a cash crop. Today, 2 varieties are grown widely
in the Gambia called ITA 306 and IET 3137.
The rest of the consumer market is satisfied via the major importers
of rice to West Africa.
History of Rice Production:
Traditionally they have used the banto faros in
the upland areas where the water from the river
was not too salty and the fields not too high to
prevent their fields from being flooded. It is during
the rainy season when the women plant the seedlings
from the nurseries to the paddy fields. At the end
of the year the rice crop was harvested and the
seed separated from the husk by various threshing
Between 1966 and 1969 a Mr.
Lee led a Chinese (Taiwan) agricultural team which introduced
rice cultivation via the method of irrigation on Janjanbureh
Island (Georgetown). This initial enthusiasm soon faded and the
project ran out of steam. This was followed by another Chinese
team (1974-1975) who set up base at the Sapu Rice Research
Station in the Central River Division.
In 1973 the Gambia
Government started its Development Project. In 1982 a rice
irrigation project was started at the Jahali and Pacharr
Smallholder Rice Development Fields involving 1,474 hectares in
the McCarthy Island Division. Two years later, in 1984, yielded
its first harvest. It proved a resounding success with rice
yields surpassing all expectations. The area generated 2 crops a
year averaging 17 tonnes per acre. This success has yet to be
replicated as it was unparalleled worldwide at the time.
Other irrigation projects followed such as RIDEP (Rice
Irrigation Development Project) which was started in 1998, Small
Scale Water Control Project (SSWC) in 1991, Lowland Agricultural
Development Project (LADEP), 1997.