The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Kalifa Kambi, recently launched the national steering committee on food security through commercialisation of agriculture (FSCA), at his office in Banjul.
Speaking at the ceremony, Deputy Minister Kambi said the project was timely and relevant to the efforts of The Gambia government's food security policy objectives and strategies being pursued vigorously by the ministry.
He said the FSCA project is being funded by the Italian government through FAO, and is one of the seven sister projects within the sub-region. This project, he stated, could not have come at a better time than now, when the government stands resolute in the fight against endemic poverty, food and income insecurity, social exclusion and injustice, particularly among the most vulnerable groups, that is, women and youths.
Deputy Minister Kambi said the project would no doubt enhance the efforts of the citizenry in the realisation of Vision 2020, PRSP11, the MDGs and the CAADP partnership compact of the Gambia National Agricultural Investment Programme, GNAIP.
He said the project will have a national face with emphasis in the North Bank and Central River Regions and will last for three years with a financial portfolio of 1.9 million dollars.
The inclusion of the committee is based on their special competencies and knowledge in project management, which he added, would be his ministry's most treasured value.
On behalf of President Jammeh, who is the Minister of Agriculture, the Deputy Minister extended sincere gratitude to the government and people of Italy for providing the much-needed financial resources for such a project.
Mrs. Amie Jallow-Jatta, the National Project Coordinator for FSCA at FAO said the goal of the FSCA project is to improve and strengthen on a sustainable basis and increase productivity of marketed output.
She said both the national and regional launch of the project was held recently in North Bank and Central River Regions, attended by 200 beneficiaries, 40 regional partners and 50 village heads.
Mrs. Jallow-Jatta said since March 2010, the project has so far achieved the recruitment of all FSCA project staff. A project management unit and field office were set up and equipment necessary to facilitate the project implementation were purchased, an MOU developed and signed with partners, and the selection of 40 beneficiary communities in the field completed.
She asserted that as part of the efforts to strengthen regional cooperation, as well as share experiences, the project recently participated in a regional workshop in Mali, organised by the seven projects to share knowledge and enhance skills.
The FAO representative in The Gambia, Dr. Babagana Ahmadu, Mrs. Naffie Barry PS at the Ministry of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, Ms. Marie Adams of the National Farmers Platform and Ousman Yarbo of TANGO, all added their voices to those of the previous speakers.
Dr. Amadou Sowe, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture chaired the ceremony.