FOROYAA Newspaper (Serrekunda)

8 November 2012

Gambia Celebrates World Food Day

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The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in collaboration with her partners World Food Programme (WFP), Action Aid the Gambia, and the Ministry of Agriculture on Tuesday the 16th of October, joined the rest of the world to commemorate World Food Day at Soma Lower River Region of the Gambia.

In the last edition of Farmers' Eye, the speech of the FAO Country Rep Dr.Babagana Ahmadu was published and in this edition, we shall publish the speech of Alhagi Lamin Nyangando the Head of Policy analysis ActionAid the Gambia in a verbatim report.

Good afternoon, I was not expecting to make a statement but nonetheless, I was asked to do so in the struggle that led all of us here, which is to look at women on the one hand and hunger on the other. As it has been said, women and hunger are two sides of the same coin. Each has its suffering. We know very well as WFP Country Director has said that women take charge of the food production and women are first to actually suffer when hunger strikes.

Therefore having to commemorate the two events together is actually in place. This day is very crucial and very important for all of us, in that the day is not a holiday and the day is actually not a day for us to sit and rest but fundamentally the day is for us to start reflecting on those people that actually have been suffering for lack of food for many years. And as we speak, we know fully well that there are people who are struggling to get their meal.

In the Gambia, we know obviously that due to the last food crisis, people are finding it difficult to really cope with the situation as access to food is getting more and more difficult. But I think what is important is for all of us to renew our commitment and ensure that food is available especially for the most vulnerable and how do we do it? We need to actually look internally to ensure that we are fabricating technologies that are home based.

When we look at those machines, you would realize that they are all built in the Gambia and what we need to do as a country is to support and promote local technology so that the people of this country are able to access them to be able to produce the food that is required to feed this country. I was looking at a document that was referring to poverty as lack of access to money.

I think that's just one aspect. And in some instances it is actually an important ideology. I think what we need to do as a country is to look at the general framework. We need to come back home and look at what it means for us when we talk about hunger and the indicators that take people to that situation.

I remember when we were young we had in our homes what we called "Sitar" (Left over food between the three daily meals). Are we really getting "Sitaa" today for our children? I think these are actual indicators for us. So our indicator for hunger must be home front. When people eat in the afternoon, children eat "Sitaa" before dinner. So "Sitaa" is very essential in this context. When children lack "sitaa" then there is hunger. I do not want to take so much time but I think we should look at some traditional system that kept us together which had helped us to produce enough food which we had been doing to cope with the food insecurity situation of this country.

Our society is built at a foundation that has been supportive to each other and I think nowadays we are missing that social fabric which is very crucial and very important to ensure people work together and achieve our vision of food security in this country. With those few remarks, I want to thank you very much for your kind attention.

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