funding from the European Union, FAO is providing technical and financial
assistance to institutionalise a comprehensive PRA system that will lead
effective management of pests in the country.
30 technicians drawn from departments and specialised units under the Ministry of Agriculture are being trained in Pest Risk Analysis at a local hotel. The two-day capacity building is jointly organised by the Plant Protection Services and FAO through the European Union funded project titled “Agriculture for Economic Growth and Nutrition/Food Security to Mitigate Migration Flows”. The overall objective of the four-year project is to contribute to sustainable growth in the agricultural sector and reduce food insecurity and malnutrition, in order to create an enabling environment for improved economic growth. This project aims to invest in a market stimulation approach to provide the pull factor that drives commercialization of production. A core aspect of the project is building the capacity and resilience of service providers, farmers and other actors in the Agriculture and Natural Resources sector for improved productivity and sustained livelihoods.
The training is being facilitated by an international pest control expert assisted by a national expert. It is designed to strengthen the country’s crop pest surveillance and control system for improved food security, nutrition, reduced poverty and sustainable socio-economic growth.
At the end of the training, participants will have the required capacity to put in place a phytosanitary regulatory system and import requirements in relation with the PRA.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Sariayang Jorbarteh, deputy director general, Department of Agriculture said, “agriculture is the backbone of the Gambian economy and this is why it’s a top priority of government.” He underscored the need for concerted efforts to address the menace of pests and diseases and urged participants to make good use of the training to help achieve the desired objectives for the achievement of national development targets.
Landing Sonko, director, PSS also underlined the relevance of the training and the need for participants to take the training seriously and endeavour to measure up to expectations. He thanked FAO and the EU for their diverse support to the ANRs with a view to helping the country achieve food and nutrition security and other national development priorities.
Ousman Touray, monitoring and evaluation officer at the FAO Country Office, also made similar remarks.
Dr. Faye Manneh, National Consultant on pest control chaired the ceremony.
In recent years, pests and disease outbreaks compounded by the spiralling threats and effects of climate change and variability have resulted in huge crop losses and in some cases total crop failure and thus aggravating food and nutrition insecurity and poverty.
The pest and diseases menace is negatively impacting exports of agricultural products, as some of them have been rejected by the European Union due to the presence of some quarantine pests.
Despite these challenges, agriculture remains one of the most important sectors in the Gambian economy and a key priority area of development.It employs nearly half (46.4 %) of the working population and 80.7 % of the rural working population. More than seven in ten (72%) of the population relies on agriculture for livelihood and 91% of the rural poor work as farmers. But, The Gambia still imports more than half of the national requirement of staple foods to feed its population of 1.9 million.