International- The Gambia, last Thursday inaugurated its Climate Resilience
Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Farm in Dalaba Village in Central River Region-South’s Naimina West District, where 34, 000 Gambians are expected to benefit from the demonstration farm.
The project title: Promoting Agro-ecology and eco-restoration practices in Southern Central River and North Bank regions of The Gambia, will be implemented in 30 communities across the beneficiary regions in partnership with Njawara Agricultural Training Center.
The project built a demonstration farm to serve as a training centre for farmers in their drive to adapt to climate change challenges and increase food production and productivity.
The overall objective of the project is to contribute to job creation and food security for women and youth through agro-ecology and resilience building to mitigate irregular migration. It has a specific objective to scale up adaptive capacities of women and youth on sustainability agriculture and climate change through agro-ecology and resilience practices and eco-restoration.
The result areas of the project are to strengthen resilience capacities of women and youths
through agro-ecology and eco-restoration; improved eco-system and environmental restoration through erosion control and agro forestry; enhance demonstration and shared learning of experiences through production of case stories, media programmes (radio and social media) and farmer exchange visits; and enhance collaboration and networking among state and non-state actors on agro-ecology and eco-restoration.
The project will directly support 1, 860 women and youth and indirectly support up to 32, 137 people from the support provided to the core target group.
The project is part of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Phase 1 project to The Gambia, with an allocation of 20.5 Million Euro (approximately 1.2 billion dalasi) to an action entitled: Agriculture for economic growth and food security/nutrition to mitigate programme” which implementation also include FAO and WFP.
Omar Badjie, Executive Director of ActionAid International- The Gambia said because of climate change, the lives and livelihood of farmers are negatively impacted which is why they developed the resilience sustainability project.
He pointed out that it is estimated that 17 percent of The Gambian population has migrated and as such, draining the rural areas active labour force, highlighting that it is therefore important that we manage migration responsibly.
He said resilience building and adaption of good farming practice is key to development, stressing that the farm must be open to all those who need it, particularly women and youth but also urged beneficiaries to take care of the farm for its sustainability.
“People have lost interest, hope and trust in agriculture due to climate change,” he remarked.
Darrell Sexstone, European Union Delegation Programme Manager said by focusing on women and youth in particular, the intention is to provide viable alternatives to migration to urban areas or even Europe, through providing them with the necessary knowledge, skills and inputs to engage in sustainable agro-ecology farming practices for food security and gainful employment within their communities as well as contribute to restoration of the local eco-systems.
He observed that at present, agriculture is not attractive for youth as there are low prices for agricultural produce, a weakness of basic services in rural areas and a lack of connectivity. “The adaption of eco-restoration and agro-ecological approaches could be essential to change these trends and make agriculture more attractive to the youth by fostering higher prices for organic produce, for production diversity and lowering dependency on external inputs and making farming a lifestyle choice again”, he observed.
Bai Jabang, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture said the project is well aligned with the prioritisation of agriculture in the national development plan of The Gambia government but also aligned with The Gambia national agricultural investment plan first generation but by extension the regional agricultural plan of the ECOWAS agricultural programme.
Fanta Jatta-Sowe, head of programmes and policy at Actionaid International, The Gambia said at Actionaid, they believe not only in empowering communities but also their responsibility to bring development to communities.
She added that for us to continue living, we have to co-exist with the environment, saying our attitude and behaviors contribute negatively or positively in impacting the environment.
She also challenged people to take care of the environment to ensure generations to come are able to live in it.
Mama Manneh, Director of Njawara Agricultural Training Center deliberated on the negative consequences of climate change and its effects on the livelihood of beneficiary communities.
He added that they hope and expect things to be learnt at the demonstration farm to support our communities to build their resilience on climate change.