May 22, 2008, 6:03 AM
The Department of Forestry, in collaboration with stakeholders on Wednesday officially launched the Forest and Farm Facility of the Food and Agricultural Organization, FAO.
The launch, which was attended by government officials, farmers’ organisations and civil society representatives, was held at the Paradise Suite Hotel.
The initiative seeks to enhance the organisation and capacity of local people so that they can engage in local, regional and national dialogues and decision-making process that has influence on the future.
The Forest and Farm Facility supports local people towards contributing to ensure that forest and farming policies improve their livelihoods, boost food security and the sustainability of productive land.
Speaking at the occasion, Ada Gaye, the Permanent Secretary 1 at the Office of the President, said the launch came at the right time.
According to her, it’s happening at the time following the overall agricultural and land reform policy that was started in 1994.
She disclosed that over the past decades the National Forest Program Facility has supported more than 80 countries worldwide, including The Gambia in implementing National Forest Programme, NFP.
He further asserted that The Gambia has over the years made some giant strides towards forest landscape protection and management, and that the government has demonstrated its commitment through the formulation of appropriate forest policy framework and the development of strategies since the mid-nineties.
Among these strategies, he said, is the participatory forest management approach as enshrined in the Gambia Forest Management Concept, GFMC.
Noting that presently over 600 villages are involved in the participatory forest resource management programme, he said, they are managing over 25,000 ha of forest nationwide.
“With the closure of the National forest program at the end of 2012, a new global initiative has been established under the title, Forest and Farm Facility, which is being launched in The Gambia today as alluded to earlier on,” she stated.
The new facility which is supported by the FAO, IUCN, IIED and the World Bank would address the remaining challenges in the implementation of previous programme, she said.
Additionally, it will support new initiative to help countries improve their governance structures at all levels to achieve sustainable forest landscape management, whilst boosting food security and promoting climate-smart agriculture, among others.
Dr. Babagana Ahmadu, FAO’s Country Representative, said the objective of the workshop was to present and discuss the relevance of the forest and farm facility with government institutions, partners and farmers’ organisation in The Gambia.
He said it would also help participants to identify initial activities to get the forest and farm facility started.
He noted that The Gambia was selected as forest and farm facility pilot country by the forest and farm facility steering committee in its meeting held on 10th January 2013.
The selection of The Gambia, is not a mere coincidence, but is largely due to the proactive approach of the Department of Forestry, and by extension its parent ministry in establishing a comprehensive national forest programme, he said.
He further asserted that the forest and farm facility is built on the positive experiences and lessons of the national forest programme, with established partnership in 70 countries and 4 regional organisations.