The president of the National Farmers Platform of The Gambia who was speaking on behalf of the association during a recent farmer-to-farmer four-day tour in the Central and Upper River Regions said more awareness creation for local communities was needed if they are to participate more effectively in that direction.
Alagi Bassi Mboge stated: “The farmers platform has recognised the alarming rate of degradation of forest resources. The Gambia is facing a daunting challenge because of its impact on the life of the people particularly the poor who are almost exclusively dependent on agriculture and forest-based products. As the forest cover degrades, productivity collapses, plants die and biodiversity becomes lost resulting in climate change. Water ways become silted with eroded soils, contributing to sedimentation of lowlands including our coastal zones which results to low productivity and sub-standard quality products that can seriously threaten food security and nutrition.
“The introduction of community forests in The Gambia has sparked off numerous other programmes particularly forestry management approaches and concepts such as joint forest parks management. All these efforts are geared towards achieving the active involvement of local communities and all the other stakeholders in forest resource management. There is also the need for a transfer of forest ownership to local communities to allow them have greater access to forest products and services for enhancement of their livelihoods.”
Mr Mboge noted that the Forest Farm Facility project of the Food and Agriculture Organisation is geared towards supporting the National Agriculture and National Resources Policy through a multi-sectoral and stakeholder platform.
“The Forest Farm Facility also believes that helping community forestry practitioners and other forest and farm producers in forming functioning producer organisations can help to strengthen their livelihood. This [four-day] trip aims to reflect on the community forest experience of the past decades and its possible impact on food security and nutrition and explores ways to strengthen the contribution of the forest for food security in The Gambia.”
Meanwhile, the four-day tour by the National Farmers Platform was conducted in partnership with the Natural Resources Consulting and funded by the Food and Agriculture Organisation. The delegation also visited rice and groundnut fields in the two regions as a way of assessing the past cropping season.
President of Bakadaji Women Farmers Association while welcoming the delegation to their rice fields commented: “Our rice fields cover about 10 hectres of land in which 184 women and 4 men work on the farms. However, one of the major constraints we are facing is the lack of tractors to put more areas of land under cultivation. We are working towards the attainment of Vision 2016 and we have a special farm for that. We want to use this opportunity to call on the president to support us with farm equipment and tractors. Most of us also have gardens where we produce vegetables.”]]>