Mar 18, 2009, 7:25 AM
The Gambia was among 13 countries that won the award recognition by FAO for outstanding progress in fighting hunger, an achievement which includes reaching international targets ahead of the end of the 2015 deadline.
President Yahya Jammeh said his government’s grand development design is to strip the country of poverty by fighting the scourge of hunger and bring it to a standstill by 2016.
President Jammeh was speaking Thursday evening after formally receiving the ‘Fighting Hunger Award’ by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation in recognition of the country’s strides as one of thirteen countries to have moved closer to eradicating hunger.
“We can kill two birds with one stone - eradicate hunger and eradicate poverty. But for us to be able to eradicate poverty, the young people of this country and the men have to go to the farms.”
“I am grateful to the women of this country, especially the women of Central River Region, Lower River Region and Upper River Region. I once again pledge to eradicate hunger in this country by 2016 and to eradicate poverty by 2020. This is because that is what Vision 2020 is all about,” President Jammeh said.
“Poverty is beyond one’s control, but my dream is that even people we call the disabled will no longer beg in the street, but will be running offices and have their own cars,” he said.
Coming back to eradicating hunger by 2016, he said he meant it because he has the Gambian women to support him, and was grateful to the Almighty Allah for this day.
“I am grateful because He has given me Gambian women. If it were not the Gambian women from 1994 to date, this country would have been starving. I want to thank the FAO director general because FAO has been at the vanguard of food self-sufficiency in Africa,” he went on.
The Vice President, Isatou Njie-Saidy, who was recently in Rome, Italy, to receive the award on behalf of the President, commented:
“I am indeed honoured with great humility to be part of this auspicious occasion, and to hand over this special award relating to our achievement of the United Nations MDG 1C on hunger, to reduce by 2015, at least half, the proportion of people living in the country suffering from undernourishment, to the President.”
According to VP Njie-Saidy, this was a well-deserved and earned award as part of his food security drive from 1994 to date.
The President has left no stone unturned to eliminate food insecurity, hunger, malnutrition and undernourishment in society, she said.
“It is indeed apt for Gambians to promote sustainable agriculture. This will not only make the economy more vibrant but it will ensure our dignity and independence as a nation and as a people,” said VP Njie-Saidy.
The VP added: “We must strive to work harder to produce all the food we need, but we need quality food to maintain good health given the health concerns of non-communicable diseases.”
Other speakers at the ceremony were the representative of the FAO in The Gambia, Minister of Agriculture Solomon Owens, Sulayman Samba, the secretary to cabinet, and Balla Garba Jahumpa, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Cabinet ministers, diplomats, senior government officials, national assembly members, and several Gambians graced the event.EndFragment