Taipei, July 29 (CNA) A four-year assistance project by Taiwan to its 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 2012, Taiwan played a part in assisting The Gambia in expanding its rice production aimed at addressing that nation's food scarcity, said Lee Pai-po, deputy secretary-general of the Taipei-based International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF).
Before Taiwan pitched in, he recalled, total rice production in The Gambia was only 25,000 metric tons per year.
The production has now increased to 80,000 metric tons, which is only enough to feed one million people, he noted, adding that The Gambia has a population of 1.8 million.
Since the project has delivered improved results, a new assistance program will follow, Lee pointed out.
In its initial stage, the new project will aim to maintain the current amount of rice production in The Gambia and prevent local rice farmers from switching to cash crops such as peanuts, he added.
The new program is also planned to expand land used to grow rice and cultivate rice seeds, Lee said.
The cultivation of premium rice seeds and irrigation techniques are areas of expertise Taiwan has shared with The Gambia, he added.
Taiwan has four allies in Africa: The Gambia, Burkina Faso, Sao Tome and Principe, as well as Swaziland.
For several decades, Taiwan has been offering assistance to African countries through projects aimed at improving local industrial development and humanitarian emergency assistance.
(By Elaine Hou and Emmanuelle Tzeng)