Farafenni, NBR – October 16, 2023 – The Gambia marked this year’s World Food Day with a colourful celebration in Farafenni, North Bank Region hosted by Governor Lamin Saidykhan. The event, commenced with a spirited march.
This year’s theme, “Water is Life, Water is Food, Leave No One Behind,” emphasizes the critical relationship between water, food security and inclusivity. Several key speakers highlighted the significance of water resources for sustainable agriculture and socio-economic development for a better life. The availability of clean water is fundamental for crop production, livestock farming and fisheries.
Honourable Dr. Demba Sabally, Minister of Agriculture highlighted the pressing need for smart irrigated agriculture to unlock the full potential of The Gambia’s arable land. With only a fraction of available land currently under rain-fed cultivation, Dr. Sabally stressed the potential for multiple harvests per year through effective water resource management.
“The government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Agriculture is actively promoting climate-smart agricultural practices, by the provision of certified seeds of early maturing field crops, use of conservation farming practices, agroforestry farming systems, access to affordable fertilizer and promoting mechanization with the distribution of tractors, power tillers, and light implements, emphasizing on land preservation and sustainable water use.”
Representatives of the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, WFP and UNFPA to The Gambia recognized the heightened food insecurity challenges faced by The Gambia. They emphasized the need for solutions, such as providing better reproductive rights especially for rural women and the school feeding meals programme, which can reach thousands of children across the nation. They reiterated access to clean water and healthy food as human right and a crucial element of realizing 2030 Agenda targets. They emphasized that ensuring access to clean water and sanitation is not only a goal in itself but a prerequisite for rural development reducing the vulnerability of those most affected by food insecurity.
FAO Representative, Moshibudi Rampedi spoke about the pivotal role of water in agriculture and food production. She identified water scarcity and the release of untreated wastewater as urgent concerns including the impact of climate change on food systems. She mentioned FAO’s initiative to improve access to water that has lightened the load for over 1000 women farmers in the North Bank Region. This was possible through European Union Delegation and the Global Environmental Facility Support.
”We must wisely manage our soil and water resources for food security. Climate change urges us to adapt and fortify our food systems and minimize food waste and losses. Let us remember that 95% of our food’s journey begins with soil and water, highlighting the intrinsic connection between water, food, and our collective future.”
The event acknowledged the International Rural Women’s Day celebrated on 15 October. Speakers emphasized the invaluable contributions of rural women to food security and rural development. Through the World Food Day the Government of The Gambia, FAO, and WFP, UNRC, UNFPA, Action Aid, National Human Rights Commission and partners witnessed the launch of the Note on the Right to Food. The celebration reaffirmed the commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, with a particular focus on Zero Hunger (SDG 2) and Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG 6) and provided an opportunity for learners to state their views and raise awareness on the importance of water to life.
FAO is committed to supporting The Gambia in its journey towards a more food-secure and sustainable future, ensuring that no one is left behind. A remarkable food exhibition by rural farmers capped-off the celebration.