of The Gambia and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United
Nations Saturday convened a day forum for journalists, national drama troops
and traditional communicators on improving food security and livelihoods
through sustainable integrated pest management at Senegambia hotel.
The day gathering also discussed pests that are causing threat to agricultural production in the country, early warning systems and communication channel enhancement.
Dr. Mustapha Ceesay, FAO representative said they organised a similar session last year where some ideas were tabled on how to approach the lingering problem of Fall Army Worm invasion of the country. He said with the help of the media, they were able to communicate with farmers in their fields and provided them with communication leaflets.
“We want to do a similar thing this year to create awareness and to get more advice on how to get improved communication in agriculture,” he said.
He said the most current lingering agriculture problem is achieving food security, noting that in the process, there are hindrances which include problems of pest management and the most pressing and critical amongst all is the Fall Army Worm in the entire African continent. “Fall Army Worm attacks maize plants and if we are not able to communicate effectively to the farmers, the pest will devastate maize crops in The Gambia,” he warned.
Dr. Ceesay stated that there are other problems like the white fly which is equally important to citrus and ornamental plants especially in the greater Banjul area and the North Bank, explaining that when the white fly attack the plants, the leaves become dark and it has secret fluids which attract other insects to attack the plant ultimately.
He stressed that the media role is critical in achieving food security because information is key in agriculture development and media practitioners control the flow of information. “If a stronger communication channel is built we will be able to communicate effectively with farmers.”
Dr. Demba Jallow, a researcher from NARI said the synergy is in line with the National Development Plan (NDP), saying point three of the 8 strategic priority points of the NDP focuses on modernizing Gambia’s agriculture and fisheries to sustain food and nutritional security and poverty reduction.
He noted that as an agricultural research institute, NARI is doing its best to come up with solutions to control the pest. In the alternative of discouraging the use of pesticides, they are promoting the use of botanicals that is plant extract as a way of controlling pests.