three-day sub-regional planning seminar for the support to the Regional Action
Plan against fruit flies is currently underway at a hotel in Kololi.
The annual regional dialogue attracted participants within the sub-region and is being hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture. The overall objective is to share experience and lessons learned on the control of fruit flies as well as to involve stakeholders in the management of fruit flies in the region.
Addressing the gathering, Darrell Sexstone, programme manager, EU Delegation to The Gambia, said the programme was also meant to improve the income of fruits and vegetable producers, thereby contributing to the reduction of poverty and increased food security in the country.
The project, he added, is also aimed at limiting losses on fruits and vegetables due to infestation of fruit flies.
Sexstone acknowledged that losses on fruits and vegetables as a result of fruit flies infestation are contained and no longer constitutes a constraint on exports, saying the available volume of fruit sold on local markets free of infestation increased, thus contributing to the overall improvement of food security.
European Union, he went on, is committed to establishing a good collaboration with their development partners such as Agency Francise Development (AFD) and ECOWAS and the implementing team.
“We hope that the spirit of partnership and information for the effective implementation would be achieved by engaging the EU Delegations of the countries concerned,” he said.
For his part, Sirayan Jobarteh, director general at the Department of Agriculture, said the forum would accord the participants the opportunity to share experience on IPMFFS programme implementation in terms of innovation, sustainability, institutionalisation, local relevance, effectiveness and ownership.
The objective, he added, is to identify follow-up strategies to support IPM continuation as well as to document successful cases of IPM.
DG Jobarteh underscored that majority of the world’s poor lives still in rural areas, where agriculture including forestry is their main source of income.
To this end, he affirmed that agriculture would continue to be the dominant sector of employment for most of these young people in Africa and in The Gambia in particular in the coming decades.
“At the same time, it is a highly political sector. Strong interests are involved which includes smallholder farmers and women farmers in particular.”
He outlined that the agenda to eradicate fruit flies in all its forms and dimension is the greatest global challenge of ‘our time,’ affirming that ending poverty is crucial for sustainable development.
DG Jobarteh further stated that the most vulnerable populations have the least access to such information.
“Our long-term support to the framework that informs and educates farmers and other relevant stakeholders is an important response to this challenge.”
He cited that The Gambia is also a long-standing supporter of the global agricultural research, pointing out that these research efforts have led to impressive achievements in the agricultural sector that has improved the lives of farmers.