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Gambia launches project to boost food security

Mar 18, 2010, 12:03 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

The deputy Minister of Agriculture, Momodou S. Kah, yesterday launched a five-year project worth US$20 million geared towards strengthening food security through the commercialisation of agriculture.

The project is being implemented in seven countries namely, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia.

The Gambia would be allocated US$2 million to implement the project, which comes within the framework of an agreement between the government of Italy and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, UN-FAO.

The project, among others, seeks to improve food security in the Gambia not only by helping the farmers to produce more, but more importantly help them to sell better what they produced.

In his launching statement at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, deputy Minister Kah said the project comes at a time when the Gambia government is standing firm in the fight against endemic poverty, food and socio-economic exclusion and injustice, particularly among the vulnerable groups.

This, he stated, is being done through the utilisation of the relentless efforts of the citizenry in the realisation of Vision 2020, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP II), the Millennium Development Goals and the CAADP partnership compact of the Gambia National Agricultural Investment Programme (GNAIP).

"The overall objective of the project is to provide support to the development of African agriculture into a modern, competitive and commercially dynamic sector, while building on the achievement and lessons learned from the national programmes for food security," Kah added.

Baboucarr Jallow the Minister of Trade and Employment commended the Italian Government for funding what he described as "a lives improvement project" in the Gambia.

The project, he added, would go a long way in complementing the government's drive towards the attainment of food self-sufficiency.

Speaking earlier, the FAO representative in the Gambia, Dr Babagana Amandu, said this was yet another attempt by UN-FAO to support Gambia's efforts in attaining food self-sufficiency. "This activity is one of the FAO's core functions within the overall strategic objective of the organisation's vision of a world without hunger," he stated.

Success in moving fast to cut the number of hungry and malnourished people will go a long way in reducing human suffering, stimulate economic growth where it is most needed and contribute to global stability to everyone's benefit, he said.

"Our experience in the FAO showed that it was possible to engaged very large numbers of rural people in identifying and applying locally specified solutions involving the use of simple, improved technologies to address problems of hunger and malnutrition," he added.

Dr Monday Bamba Lead Technical Officer TCFS at the FAO office in Rome revealed that, since 1994, FAO has been striving to combat food security and poverty, especially through its special programme for security, implemented in some 106 countries.