Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) country office in collaboration with
the government of the Gambia, GOTG, on Wednesday convened a daylong project
inception seminar on the Technical Cooperation Programmes (TCP), to support
capacity development in conducting livestock census in The Gambia.
The forum that brought participants from all the regions, including regional governors, representatives from Ghana and farmers, as well livestock dealers, was held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.
In his welcome remarks, Lamin Saine expressed profound gratitude to FAO and the government of The Gambia for funding the nationwide enumeration of all domestic animals, the first of its kind since 1993.
The government has inter alia identified the livestock sector as an engine for poverty alleviation, as manifested in its investment through the implementation of livestock projects such as LHDP, PROGEBE and FASDEP.
According to Mr Saine, the robust economic growth in Africa has been and is anticipated to translate into a growing demand for animal-source foods such as meat and dairy products, the consumption of which is correlated with income level, population growth and urbanization.
This provides opportunity for poverty reduction, economic growth and overall contribution to the post- 2015 development Agenda.
Mr Saine said the available data on the livestock from the 1993 census and NASS reports, are insufficient to formulate and implement the necessary public and private sector investment for livestock sector development, whose potential contributions to economic growth, poverty reduction and food security risk thus remain untapped.
According to him, livestock plays a fundamental role in the Gambian economy and livelihood, contributing about 10 per cent of GDP and 30 per cent of agricultural GDP.
Reliable, updated information and data on livestock numbers, products and production systems of the country are scanty and not easily available. These data are needed for the appraisal, formulation and implementation of livestock development programmes and projects.
He said the census funded by FAO and the government of The Gambia would be jointly conducted by department of Livestock Services, DLS, Gambia Bureau of Statistics GBoS, Gambia Livestock Marketing Agency, GLMA, and the planning services unit (PSU) of the department of Agriculture.
The census would be conducted in October/November 2016, and data would be collected through oral inquiry by enumerators.
He then thanked the FAO country office for their continued support to the government of The Gambia.
In delivering a speech, the deputy FAO country representative, Mariatou Njie Faal, said the TCP was designed to complement government’s efforts in the availability of accurate and reliable information on livestock in the country, thus contributing in the decision making and planning in the livestock sector for economic growth and social well-being.
The Gambia has set a goal to become a middle- income country by 2020 with a vibrant commercialized agricultural sector. The livestock sector would play an important role in that journey.
She added that livestock contributes significantly to the national economy and livelihood of the population. In all, it contributes about 30 per cent of the agricultural GDP and about 10 per cent to the national GDP.
She said as the sector grows, both the government and private sectors, including farmers, require accurate and reliable data on which to base decisions about polices, regulations, programmes and investment in the sector.
According to Mrs Njie, the objective of the inception workshop is to provide an overview of the project, and sensitize the participants on the need for the census, the roles and responsibilities of all the key stakeholders and conduct of the census.
She further reaffirmed FAO continuous commitment and assistance to the department of Livestock Services for the successful implementation of the project.
FAO has already engaged its pool of technical experts in both agricultural statistic and livestock production and health at all levels to provide adequate technical support.
She also thanked the government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Agriculture for the excellent relationship which FAO enjoys with its government partners, and took the opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to deepening its collaboration and cooperation with the government of The Gambia.