May 28, 2008, 5:53 AM
We note that the press release issued by IFAD announcing the visit to The Gambia, stated that “the focus of discussions will be on strengthening partnerships and furthering work to transform rural areas into economically vibrant places”.
It added: “Investments in smallholder agriculture that prioritize rural people, and in particular women and youth, will be on the top of my agenda during my discussions with country leaders in Banjul,” said Dr. Nwanze prior to his departure.
“Smallholder family agriculturecan be a high-yielding, efficient and lucrative business, as well as a dignified profession that produces food, creates jobs, sustains families and puts countries on the road to stable, inclusive development.”
We cannot agree more with Dr. Nwanze, especially seeing how well the foregoing rhymes with the government’s present emphasis on assisting women farmers and encouraging the country’s youths to get jobs in agriculture.
Indeed, discussing “rural women’s empowerment and how to enhance their contribution to family farming as a profitable economic activity”, will also be right, since we understand that “gender equality and women’s empowerment have always been at the core of IFAD’s efforts to reduce poverty”.
“Investing in rural Gambian women, so that they have equal access to economic opportunities and services, is one of the most effective strategies for reducing poverty and malnutrition”, the IFAD release quoted Dr. Nwanze as further stating.
Again, we cannot agree more with him, and hope that this message will reinforce the Gambian authorities’ confidence in continuing to pursue policies, which we know are consistent with IFAD’s mission of “investing in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience”.
“Agriculture is not crop production as popular belief holds - it’s the production of food and fiber from the world’s land and waters. Without agriculture it is not possible to have a city, stock market, banks, university, church or army. Agriculture is the foundation of civilization and any stable economy”.