Gambia: Small Holder Farmers First to Suffer in Food Crises, FAO Calls for 1m Silos for Them

File photo: Duom Deng Biar is part of a farmers group in Twic East in Jonglei, South Sudan, where a poor harvest has led to widespread hunger. “If I feel hungry, it is okay, but the children should not,” said Duom. “We are feeling hungry. What we have cultivated, we have finished,” she said. The family tried to get a second harvest, but the lack of rain meant that the seeds dried off. “I have a lot of challenges. One son is still in school, and I have to sell our chickens, so that I can pay the school fees,” she said.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in its political declaration of 4 May 2021 has described smallholder farmers as "the first line of defense in West Africa's storage system, but the first to suffer"in food crisis.

The declaration was made as part of the International Online Conference organised by the ECOWAS Commission from 28 April to 10 May 2021 to enable member states, technocrats, development partners, financial institution with its partners from other regions of the world, to enable them share their experience of their food security, continues to attract many commitments.

Silo, as a tall tower or pit on a farm used to store grain, is not a new concept in farming in the sub region. Also called food banks, they usually serve as a food storage for small holders, rural farmers, including grains and seeds for next season's planting.

Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), through its Subregional Coordinator for Africa Western and Representative in Senegal, Mr. Gouantoueu Robert Guei, called for continued cooperation to consolidate collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission and its partners to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable populations in West Africa and achieve food sovereignty.

"The first line of defense for the West African storage system, are the first victims of the volatility of agricultural product prices on the market, due to the lack of storage infrastructures," Mr Robert Guei said.

He therefore invites the international community and all technical and financial partners to combine their efforts to support the Cedeao Commission in launching a major programme to the "1 million silos for West Africa" initiative, as an important programme for the expansion of family and community silos.

FAO has proven experience in food safety storage, and assures support to the ECOWAS Commission to achieve this ambition. In fact, the goals of Malabo's Declaration and accompanying commitments of reducing hunger in the region can only be achieved through the creation of solid food storage systems.

The general objective of this International Conference is to build the basis for a renewed multilateral partnership to reinforce alert, prevention, intervention and humanitarian aid and assistance to populations affected by food crisis.

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