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AGRICULTURE & DEVELOPMENT: Forestry policy assessment draft report validated

Nov 30, 2015, 10:13 AM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with the department of Forestry and various stakeholders within civil society-based organisations, government departments and farmers, Thursday convened and validated the Gambia Forestry Policy assessment for better food security and sustainable forest management draft report, held at the NaNA conference hall.

The daylong forum organised under the auspices of FAO, was meant to bring various stakeholders together to look at the report, criticise it constructively, make necessary adjustments, and come up with recommendations, suggestions, and carve the way forward for a better national report in the best interest of the Gambian people.

It was also stated that the FAO and Forestry department spearheaded the development of a cross-sectorial forestry and food security policy analysis framework, to serve as a tool to assess the extent of linkages between national forest and food security policies.

The FAO is currently field-testing the tool in seven countries around the world, including The Gambia, prior to its final validation.

To this end, FAO recruited a national consultant to lead the preparation of The Gambia assessment report.

The national assessment report is expected to strengthen the contribution of the forest sector to achieve the country food security and nutrition objectives, by identifying key areas for improvement within the forest and food security and nutrition policies.

The assessment outcomes would further feed into the development of FAO policy guidelines on developing cross-sectorial forestry and food security policy.

Speaking on the occasion, the director of the department of Forestry, Sambou Nget, said the convergence was to validate The Gambia’s Forestry Policy Assessment for better food security and sustainable forest management report.

“I must say that the majority of our institutions and, indeed, The Gambian population are increasingly aware of the contribution of our forests to the enhancement of livelihoods, including food security and nutrition particularly among rural communities,” he said.

The response to the invitation was a clear manifestation of the above assertion, he added, and thanked the participants on behalf of FAO and the department of Forestry for the solidarity that the two institutions have always been enjoying from them.

He said feeding the world’s population was one of the most pressing challenges facing humanity in the twenty-first century, he said.

According to Nget, 925 million people in the world are food insecure, representing around one in six of the world’s population, and that with increasing impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events, the above figure may even rise.

Forests and trees outside forests can, however, contribute enormously to food security and nutrition, he continued, adding that forests as well as trees on farms are a direct source of food and income for more than a billion of the world’s poorest people, providing both staple foods and supplementary diets such as fruits, edible leaves and nuts.

Trees are also an integral part of agricultural systems of many small-scale farmers, providing both cash and subsistence benefits which comes from trees that are planted or managed on farms, as well as from forest resources in communally-managed forests such as community forests.

Therefore, he went on, enhancing food security and nutrition through sustainable forest management requires a comprehensive inter-sectorial approach among government agencies, which should lead to integrated landscapes management.

This collaboration should help integrate government, he said, adding that the assessment report being validated could help in streamlining food security and nutrition issues into both within and outside forests, to food security and nutrition.