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Former FAO Director-General arrives in The Gambia

Jan 5, 2012, 2:19 PM | Article By: Nfamara Jawneh

The former Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations arrived in The Gambia yesterday for a three-day visit.

Dr Jacques Diouf was met on arrival at the Banjul International Airport by the Minister of Forestry and the Environment, Jato Sillah, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Sanna Dahaba, FAO assistant representative, Mariatou Njie, and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, among other dignitaries.

Speaking to reporters shortly after his arrival, the former FAO boss said he had planned to visit The Gambia in his capacity as a Senegambian citizen, a friend and a brother.

He said he was in the country to express his gratitude to the Gambian leader and government for his support to him during his tenure in office.

The former FAO director-general said he hoped to discuss issues of food security and share his experience with the Gambian leader.

“The Gambia has made great efforts in ensuring food security and that more resources should be mobilised from bilateral and multilateral partners to strengthen the efforts,” he told reporters.

Responding to questions on poor crop production and rainfall this year, Dr Diouf said rainfall for agriculture is a challenge for the sub-region. “It is something we have no control over,” he said. “We expect scarcity of water from time to time, which has impacted on us.”

He also raises eyebrow on the rush for land in Africa by foreign investors, which he sees as another form of neo-colonialism.

 Dr Diouf called for more budgetary allocation and private sector investment in agriculture.

Meanwhile, from the airport the visiting former FAO director-general drove to Banjul where he paid a courtesy call on the Vice President of The Gambia.

Dr Diouf ended his third term with the FAO on 31 December 2011 after serving the UN agency for 18 years.

The newly elected Director-General of the FAO, José Graziano da Silva, assumed office on 1 January 2012 for a term which expires on 31 July 2015.