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National Farmers Platform holds awareness forum

Jul 8, 2011, 1:40 PM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

The National Farmers Platform and ActionAid International The Gambia on 5 July organised a two-day forum on learning and sharing for the wider network of farmer organisations in the country.

The forum, which brought participants from various organisations across the country, was held at TANGO offices in Kanifing.

The cardinal objective of the forum was to provide space and opportunity for the sensitization of farmer organisations on key agricultural programmes and projects.

It also sought to promote the increased networking and collaboration among farmer organisations with a view to promoting joint campaign initiatives and sharing stories of best practices and successes in the pursuit of improved food security in The Gambia.

Speaking at the forum, Marie Njie Adams, coordinator of the Platform, said the forum discussed and shared knowledge with the coordinators of the International Food Security Network for West African sub-region.

“Food security situation exists when all at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life,” she said, since food security is built around the pillars of access, availability and food use.

The past few decades, Madam Adams noted, the number of hungry people in the world has kept rising even though commitments have been made by world leaders to cut by half the number of people living in chronic hunger by 2015 as contained in the world food summit target and further buttressed by goal number 3 of the Millennium Development Goals.

“The emerging picture of food insecurity in West Africa is complex and arises from the interaction of both human and natural disasters,” she said.

According to Madam Adams, the leading causes of food insecurity to date is centred around the challenges of trade in agricultural commodities, climate change, conflict, land grabbing, lack of access to agricultural inputs, bio-fuels, farm land allocation for women farmers, challenges of marketing of agricultural products, high food price and other politico-socio-economic upheavals.

She said: “In trying to address food insecurity in Africa, the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), the framework for Africa’s agricultural development, was developed to provide guidelines for the state, the private sector, and civil society to work towards achieving food security in Africa.”

She says the CAADP framework underscores an all-inclusive approach and emphasises strongly the importance of collaboration of the State, the private sector, and civil society organizations in working towards achieving food security.

The role that farmer organisations can play in turning these aspirations to realities cannot be underemphasized, she says, adding: “It has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that there is enough food in the world to feed everyone adequately. But the problems of food insecurity in West Africa, to a very large extent, depend on commitment to policies.”

The daylong forum sought to create space for learning and sharing for farmer organisations in The Gambia as well as to develop strategies for improved networking and collaboration among farmer organisations.

Wuri Jallow of ActionAid International The Gambia and Fatou Samba-Njie of NAWFA both expressed delight about the relevance of the forum.

They also called for more empowerment of local NGOs since they are the main implementing partners on the ground.