Mar 12, 2012, 1:31 PM
In an attempt to support member countries in their fight against poverty and household food insecurity throughout the world, the local office for the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), under its Technical Co-operation (TCP) on Input Supply as part of its "initiative on soaring food prices", yesterday handed over some production inputs worth D4.7m to the Ministry of Agriculture, for onward dispatch to deserving farmers in the Western, North Bank and Lower River Regions.
The donated items include 4000 bags of fertilisers worth three million Dalasi, 600 bags of NERICA rice, amounting to one million Dalasi, five power tillers valued at D702, 000.
The ceremony was held at the head office of the Department of Communications, Extension, and Education Services in Abuko.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony, on behalf of FAO Country Representative, Dr. Thomas Sukwa, WHO's Representative noted that the inputs were procured under the FAO funded TCP project on "In supply to vulnerable populations under the initiative on soaring Food Prices (ISFP)".
Dr. Sukwa maintained that it is now clear than ever that the impact of high food prices in developing countries (especially low-income food importing countries) is of serious concern.
"Farmers also suffer as international prices of fertilisers have also increased. Hence, urgent action is needed on two fronts-making food accessible to the most vulnerable and helping small producers raise their output and earn more," he said.
He noted that the UN has underlined that the most urgent immediate need is to feed those who are hungry and vulnerable.
He disclosed that the FAO's Director-General had launched this "initiative on soaring food prices" in December 2007, in order to respond to the crises that threatened to push millions of people back into the vicious cycle of hunger and poverty.
"High food prices have become a matter of survival for billions of people world-wide," he stated.
According to him, it is now documented that at the global level, the poorest spend up to 80% of their household incomes on the food they eat, most of them, he said live in rural areas and make their living from farming.
He said the initiative was meant to increase food production in the short-term, noting that it has two simple but effective goals: distribute seeds, fertiliser, and animal feed and farming tools and supplies to smallholder farmers.
He revealed that "the project would assist 3, 000 vulnerable households to ensure access to agricultural inputs, to increase agricultural production capacity, and hopefully increase self-sufficiency in food security in the country".
He further revealed that in September 2008, FAO had approved a $250, 000 TCP project for The Gambia to address the impact of the soaring prices.
For his part, Bakary Trawally, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture told the gathering that, last year was a difficult year for The Gambia, amid skyrocketing prices of food, which eventually turned to food crises. He noted that with the intervention of the FAO, the problem would be over.
He said that Gambian farmers are ready to work, provided they have adequate farming inputs. He said they want Gambian farmers to compete with other farming communities around the world.
Mr. Trawally pointed out that, "no nation can be proud of itself without feeding itself."
In conclusion, he assured that the equipment would be put to good use.
He also urged Gambians in the diaspora to come forward and invest in agriculture.