30 November 2020, Banjul-Rural poverty and malnutrition in the Gambia are still some of the major issues Government faces and areas where it must take action to live up to its commitment to achieve the Agenda 2030. Achieving Zero Hunger - Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG2) and Agenda 2030 is at the core ofthe Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) mandate. To strengthen the Gambian Government's efforts, FAO donated four brand new Toyota Pick-Up vehicles, ten laptops and five printers to institutions under the Ministries of Agriculture and Health.
The vehicles and IT equipment worth6 million Gambian Dalasis will specifically strengthen and increase the efficiency of field activities undertaken by the Regional Agricultural Directorates in Kerewan (NBR) and Kuntaur (CRR North), Planning Services Unit and Agri-Business services Unit under the Department of Agriculture, the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) and the Directorate of Health Promotion and Education of the Ministry of Health.
The support is within the European Union (EU) funded projects "Improving Food Security and Nutrition in the Gambia through Food Fortification" and "Agriculture for Economic Growth Food Security/Nutrition to Mitigate migration flows" and the FAO funded Technical Cooperation Programme"Mapping of the Human Resources Capacity Gap and Strengthening Capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture".
Implementation of the projects with the Ministries of Agriculture and Health started in 2017 to support the attainment of Vision 2020 and the National Development Plan 2018-2021.
Leaving no one behind
Food Security and Nutrition indicators cannot be improved unless there are transformative agricultural research, extension systems, and effective social and behavioral change communication in place. That was the simple message underlying the handover of the donated items. The 6 million GMD donation puts the spotlight on the importance of investing in agricultural research and extension systems as well as increasing health education among the population and stakeholders to achieve sustainable transformation of Agri-Food Systems for the eradication of hunger and malnutrition and the reduction of rural poverty.
Ms. Amie Fabureh, Minister of Agriculture presided over the brief handing over ceremony at the premises of the Ministries of Agriculture and Health in Banjul on behalf of The Gambian Government on Friday 27 November, 2020.
"This donation of vehicles and IT equipment will make an important contribution to the delivery of research and agriculture extension services as well as bringing health education across the country," the minister said in her acceptance speech.
Ms. Fabureh commended FAO and the EU for the solid partnership and joint efforts to contribute to the Government's commitment to address food insecurity, malnutrition, irregular migration and rural poverty.
She further highlighted with appreciation FAO's consistent support to the Agriculture sector in the areas of policy and programmes formulation and implementation, institutional strengthening and the provision of high quality agricultural inputs and trainings to farmers, which have increased production, and productivity in the country.
"With the support of FAO, the Ministry of Agriculture has been able to procure locally certified seeds from our Gambian farmers and seed entrepreneurs since 2019 to support farmers that are in need of assistance to restore their livelihoods. As a country, we are yearning for food self-sufficiency by 2030. The Government is appreciative of the partnership with FAO and the EU and we look forward to receiving more support for the achievement of the 2030 targets," she said.
"Food security is a key pillar for health," said Mr. Lamin Dampa, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health in his vote of thanks. He noted that the vehicle given to the directorate for Health Promotion and Education under the Ministry of Health would help strengthen community health outreach activities for the achievement of optimal health and sustainable development.
In her handover statement, Ms. MoshibudiRampedi, FAO Country Representative paid tribute to the EU for entrusting its resources with FAO to support the Gambian Government'sdevelopment process. She noted that the growth of the organisation's work in the country is due to the massive financial support it is receiving from the EU.
Ms. Rampedi reiterated FAO's continued commitment to its work in The Gambia and expressed optimism that the assistance will help the Government improve agricultural research and extension services delivery as well as health education and promotion.
Ms. Evangelina Blanco Gonzales, Programme Manager at the EU Delegation to The Gambia noted that the EU remains the principal supporter of The Gambia in the quest to achieve food security and nutrition targets.
She gave an overview of both projects and reaffirmed the EU's commitment to continue supporting FAO and the Government of The Gambia to improve food security and nutrition.