#Article (Archive)

Govt. urged to enact right to food bill

Jun 4, 2012, 12:42 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

More than 500 farmers’ representatives and organizations at the just-concluded first National Farmers Conference has issued a declaration urging the Gambia government to work towards enacting a right to food legislation, as contained in the FAO (UN Food and Agriculture Organisation) voluntary guidelines on the right to food.

The conference held at Janjangbureh in the Central River Region was the first of its kind, AND brought together hundreds of farmers, development partners, as well as government officials.

In a communiqué issued at the end of the two-day meeting, participants highlighted, among others, the problems faced by farmers; the way forward for farming community in The Gambia; and how government and its development partners can engage them in a dialogue, as effective tool of communication.

The declaration also urged the Gambia government to continue to work towards attaining the commitments in the Maputo Declaration of allocating at least 10% of the national budget to agriculture; to build capacities of small-holder farmers, particularly women’s farmers and youths, in order to promote the achievement of sustainable household food security.

“Commit ourselves to pursue a transparent and accountable process of managing the organizations of farmers in the country; and, align our interventions and resources to complement national programmes for farmers in The Gambia, as contained in national policy and programme frameworks,” the farmers declared.

The declaration further requested the government to urgently set up mechanisms for dialogue between the farmers’ organizations and the government, development partners, and private sector businesses concerns to enhance the opportunities of farmers’ organizations to be reliably functional, efficiently operational and improve their performance in a number of areas.

Farmers also encouraged government to facilitate the setting-up and or strengthen existing mechanisms for providing cost-effective, affordable and sustainable financial services for farmers and operators in the ANR (agriculture and natural resources) sector such as a trust fund, development and investment funds.

They also requested the government to revitalize existing structures such as the ANR Working Group, and the select committee of the general assembly with oversight responsibility on the ANR sector to review and take follow up actions on the declarations and outcomes from the conference.

The declaration also stated that the prevailing environment in the economy of the country, and the high demands on the sector for it to raise its performance to meet national priorities of Vision 2020, the Millennium Development Goals, particularly halving hunger by 2015, and the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE), all require farmers and operators in the ANR sector to be more cohesive, inter-linked, and united in engaging and expanding economies of scale among themselves.