Jul 2, 2008, 5:30 AM
Mr. Yusupha Kah, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Employment has stated that in Africa, increased agricultural growth will play a key role in addressing the current food crisis, in contributing to overall economic growth, and helping to achieve the MDGs of halving the proportion of the poor and hungry people by 2015.
Minister Kah, who was addressing a two-day international conference on Donor Round Table for National Agricultural Investment Programme (NAIP) on Wednesday at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, said the challenge in meeting MDGs under the current circumstances is considerable, especially in the sub-Saharan Africa.
The conference, among others, seeks to provide integrated framework in the agricultural development.
"Investing in agriculture is a key to reducing poverty and hunger in developing countries like The Gambia and it's an essential element in addressing the current food crisis," he said. But he was quick to add that investing in agriculture also means investing in rural population to enhance the human capital foundations of development.
According to him, agriculture still holds a beacon of hope for our development, and thus the GNAIP which is geared towards the development of the sector is extremely important.
He noted that this conviction is demonstrated by personal involvement of President Jammeh in leading the national crusade for agricultural development.
Minister Kah expressed his sincere gratitude to the ECOWAS Commission and its partners for the support they have been providing to the government of The Gambia through his ministry since the beginning of this process in 2008.
This support, he explained, was not only limited to finance but also technical support, which was very helpful in getting to this day.
"I must also thank the inter-departmental taskforce that was constituted by my ministry in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture, tasked with the responsibility of coordinating the entire process," he added.
For his part, Dr Babagana Ahmadu, FAO Representative in The Gambia said in an effort to halt and reverse the decline of the agricultural sector in Africa, African Ministers of Agriculture unanimously adopted at the 22nd FAO Regional Conference for Africa, held in Cairo, a resolution laying down key steps to be taken with relation to agriculture in the framework of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
CAADP, he added, provides an integrated framework of development priorities, aimed at restoring agricultural growth, rural development and food security in the African region. "In its very essence, it seeks to implement the key recommendations on food security, poverty reduction and sustainable use of natural resources made at recent global conferees," Dr. Amadu added.
According to him, FAO has been the leading technical partner of the African Union and NEPAD since the launch of the NEPAD initiative in Lusaka in 2001.