By Aminata Kuyateh
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) Friday officially handed over 34 motorbikes and farmer field school materials to the Ministry of Agriculture at the FAO premises in Fajara.
Speaking at the ceremony, Perpetua Katepa-Kalala, FAO representative in The Gambia said that the 21 motorbikes were procured through the European Union funded project entitled “Post Crises-Response to Food and Nutrition Insecurity in The Gambia” while the remaining 13 were procured through the Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded “Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change project”.
She said the motorbikes are meant to facilitate the movement of the extension agents and supervisors involved in the implementation of these projects in LRR, CRR South, CRR North, URR and NBR, adding that 21 motorbikes Yamaha DT 125 out of which 20 will be given to the extension workers in the field.
“One of the projects is to increase knowledge and skills of vulnerable households in climate-smart agriculture and horticulture practices in targeted regions,” she emphasised.
On the aspect of the farmer field school, Madam Kalala revealed that the school was developed by FAO and partners nearly 25 years ago in Southeast Asia and an alternative to the prevailing top-down extension method of the Green Revolution.
“The training of trainers on the farmer field school methodology which was just concluded recently at Jenoi Farming centre were seventy five trainers graduated aim at strengthening the extension to provide technical support to more farmers so as to reduce the gap of one extension workers for 3200 farmers,” she said.
The minister of Agriculture, Omar Jallow thanked EU and FAO for responding to the people of The Gambia, adding that providing the motorbikes and farming implements will encourage and improve agriculture in the country.
“The Gambian people shouldn’t only see farming as a family tradition but a way of adding income and not only to the farmers but to the country as well,” Minister Jallow said.
Minister Jallow went further and urged the farmers to work hard so that they will not depend on others but to be independent like any other person in the state.
For his part, Darrel Sexstone Attache, European Union delegate to The Gambia, said the twin shocks of drought and Ebola in 2014 and 2015 not only forced many Gambians into food and nutrition insecurity but the shock was so severe that the ability of the communities to recover, or “bounce back” in the following years was undermined.
He added that the crises provoked an immediate humanitarian response in 2015 from the European Union Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Office (ECHO) which funded cash transfers to the most vulnerable populations in the Central River Region and also provided assistance, through UNICEF, to Severe Acute Malnourished children across the country.
He said the EU followed up the ECHO intervention with this project which is called “Post Crises response to food and nutrition insecurity, adding that the project 11.5 million Euro or in local currency around 600 million Dalasi in grant, funded from an exceptional B allocation of the European Development Fund.