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Urbanisation has negative influence on farming and agric development: FAO

Sep 28, 2016, 10:44 AM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

FAO Country Representative Dr Perpetua Katepa-Kalala has said the phenomenon of urbanisation has negative influence on farming and agricultural development.

She added that urbanisation reduces the amount of land for agricultural purposes.

Dr Katepa-Kalala was speaking yesterday at a daylong seminar organised by the Department of Agriculture in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations on micro-gardening exposition and demonstration, at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.

The forum was designed to promote urban agriculture, employment creation, income generation and food and nutrition security in The Gambia.

“This leads to reduced agricultural activities in urban areas contributing to poverty and resulting in low level of fruit and vegetable consumption, compared to the 400 grams per day recommended by the United Nations World Health Organisation.”

She said using lesser land to intensively produce fruits and vegetables is one way to remedy the situation and enhance the food and nutrition status of households in the urban area.

To boost the overall supply of horticultural produce to the world’s developing cities, micro-gardening is highly appreciated for its high efficiency in terms of land and water use, as it could facilitate daily access to a variety of horticulture produce for consumption.

According to her, FAO promotes the sustainable and intensification of commercial market gardening on urban peripheries.

In densely populated areas, it has a complementary strategy to help low-income households improve their food and nutrition security by growing their own vegetables in micro-gardens, she noted.

“Micro-gardening is the intensive cultivation of a wide range of vegetables, roots and tubers and herbs in small spaces, such as balconies, patios and rooftops.

“While urban residents have long grown vegetables in backyard plots, modern micro-gardening makes use of containers such as plastic lined wooden crates, custom-built tables and even old car tyres.”

She also stated that micro-gardening is highly productive and could be easily managed by anyone - women, men, children, the elderly and the disabled.

She said FAO studies show that a micro-garden of one square metre could produce around 299 tomatoes of 30kg per 36 heads of lettuce every 60 days, 10 cabbages every 90 days and 100 onions every 120 days.

The FAO country representative further stated that micro-gardening technology has the possibility to create jobs in the cities for women and the youth, and to address food and nutrition security in urban areas.

She reaffirmed the FAO’s commitment to deepening its collaboration and technical cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Gambia government.

She thanked the government for creating an environment conducive for cooperation and collaboration.

Also speaking at the seminar was the deputy director general of the Department of Agriculture, Sariyang M.K. Jobarteh, who said the forum was another noble gesture for the development of the horticulture sub-sector.

He said a great potential is attached to the horticultural crop production in The Gambia as it has become a priority area for government towards diversification, food security, poverty reduction, rural development and economic growth and also contributes 4 per cent to the GDP.

According to him, the FAO has been assisting the farming communities to improve their production and productivity to be self-sufficient in food and nutritional security.

In response to the food and nutrition security, micro garden is another way of cultivating vegetables in a soilless method.

He said to be successful in micro-gardening there is need to establish outset training and engage public and private sector support services.