participants including extension workers, NGOs and farmers recently completed a
six-week Training of Trainers on farmer field school, at the Jenoi Agricultural
Rural Farmer Training Center in the Lower River Region.
The 30-month project entitled: “Post crisis-response to food and nutrition insecurity in The Gambia” is funded by the European Union.
The project aims to contribute to the reduction of the stunting rate among children 0-24 months in the targeted communities.
The project is being jointly implemented by Food and Agricultural Organisation, the World Food Program and UNICEF in close partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and its specialized units, the National Nutrition Agency, the Ministry of Social Welfare and other civil society and farmer-based organisations.
In his closing remark, the deputy permanent secretary 2 at the Ministry of Agriculture, Adama Ngum-Njie, said 75 per cent of the Gambia population depends on agriculture for employment generation and livelihood strategy to generate income as well as to enhance food security.
The sector also accounts for 33 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, she disclosed.
She noted that one of the project components was designed to increase knowledge and skills of vulnerable households within the targeted regions in climate smart agriculture and horticulture practices through the Farmer Field School approach.
She also stated that agriculture is one of the main drives of the Gambia’s GDC growth having employed (46.4%) nearly half of the working population, and 80.7% of the rural working population.
The sector, she said, typically contributes up to 31% of GDP although this declined to 20% of GDC in 2016 whiles 72% of the population depends on agriculture for livelihood and 91% of the rural poor work as farmers.
In his remarks, the EU Ambassador to The Gambia, Attila Lajos, said the EU is a major global financial actor in terms of food and nutrition security.
In 2012, he said, the EU made a policy commitment to support countries including The Gambia to reduce the number of stunted children under the age of five by at least 7 million by 2025.
In 2013, the EU made a financial commitment to spend €3.5 billion between 2014 and 2020 on nutrition interventions to help reduce stunting, adding that since then almost half that amount has been programmed by the EU.
He recalled that in 2014 The Gambia suffered from two severe “shocks”; firstly a severe drought led to a significant decrease in crop production throughout the country, and the Ebola Virus Disease scare in the region.
The twin shocks of drought and Ebola in 2014 and 2015 not only forced many Gambians into food and nutrition insecurity but the shock was so severe that the ability of communities to recover, or “bounce back” in the following years was undermined .
The crisis provoked an immediate humanitarian response from the European Union Humanitarian aid and civil protections office which funded cash transfer to the most vulnerable populations in Central River Region and also provided assistance, through UNICEF, to severe acute malnourished children across the country.
Dr. Perpetua Katepa-Kalala, the FAO country Representative applauded the participants for their high sense of commitment throughout the training and assured of unflinching support to farmers, particularly women famers.
The Governor of Lower River Region, Fanta Bojang Samateh Manneh, thanked the EU and others partners for supporting government in its dream of food self-sufficiency.