Aug 3, 2010, 1:55 PM
The Gambia over the weekend joined the rest of the world to mark yet another World Food Day. The day serves as a reminder to intensify our efforts in attaining national food security.
We must also take stock of the severity of global hunger, since it has been documented that some one billion people are hungry in the world.
The theme for this year's celebration is: "United Against Hunger", chosen to recognize the efforts made in the fight against world hunger at the national, regional and international levels.
Uniting against hunger becomes real when state and civil society organizations, and the private sector, work together at all levels to defeat hunger, extreme poverty and malnutrition.
In fact, the Millennium Development Goal 1 - Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger - calls for halving the number of hungry people in the world by 2015.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, one billion people in the world are hungry.
This is a serious matter and, indeed, a cause for concern that requires the collective efforts of civil society, NGOs and representatives of all relevant people affected by food insecurity and development partners.
It is the responsibility of any nation to ensure that her people do not go to bed hungry.
Therefore, there is a need to increase our food production, and also for an increase in domestic and international funding for agriculture.
More proactive actions are also needed to tackle the threats posed by climate change to food security.
Our poor farmers need more motivation for them to grow more food for the household and even for exportation, especially women farmers who grow most of our staple food, rice.
More and timely availability of fertilizers and other farm inputs are also needed in large quantities. This is because everyone must have access to food, and is not a task for a single actor.
States must also act in concert to support sustainable food production and food security.
In The Gambia, significant strides have been made by the ministry of Agriculture and partners such as the Taiwan technical mission, FAO and many other development partners to boost food production in the country.
However, if the dream of attaining national food self-sufficiency is to be achieved, more determined efforts must be made. Apart from providing more farm inputs to farmers, soft loans will make the agriculture sector more attractive to young people.
Soil fertility is not good in some parts of the country, thus the need for timely availability of affordable fertilizer to our farmers.
Women farmers who grow most of the rice we consume in the country should be given permanent farmland to manage, control and develop. Meanwhile, our national food production will, no doubt, have to increase, if we want to attain our food self-sufficiency goal.
In short, Agriculture must be given priority, if we want to drive away hunger.
"A hungry man is not a free man."
Adlai E. Stevenson