The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) today handed over a consignment of seeds and fertilizer to The Gambian government for onward distribution amongst 12,000 severely food insecure farmers.
Mrs. Amie Fabureh, Minister for Agriculture received the consignment on behalf of the government at a brief ceremony at the Regional Agriculture Directorate in Jenoi, Lower River Region.
The consignment comprises 36.5 metric tons of maize, 9 metric tons cowpeas, 72 metric tons rice, 0.519 metric tons findi, 132.8 metric tons groundnut and 1,008 metric tons fertilizer; NPK 15-15-15; NPK 6-20-10 and urea.
The entire seed stock was sourced locally from local certified seed growers. It was certified by the National Seed Secretariat of The Gambia whose capacity was adequately strengthened by FAO. The fertilizer too was procured locally and thus injecting a whooping D45 million in to the economy amidst slowing economic growth due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The target beneficiaries were identified through a joint stakeholder screening exercise conducted earlier this year by the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Disaster Management Agency, the Gambia Red Cross Society and FAO. The beneficiaries come from the 30 most vulnerable districts highlighted by the CILSS Cadre Harmonize and the Pre-harvest crop assessments conducted in November 2019.
FAO procured the inputs through the European Union (EU) funded project titled “Agriculture for Economic Growth and Food Security/Nutrition to Mitigate Migration Flows”. The four-year project is being implemented in NBR, CRR North and South, URR and LRR with the aim to contribute towards sustainable growth in the agricultural sector, support to vulnerable farmers with quality agriculture inputs, enhance household food security and promote commercialisation. Through support from the project, the National Seed Secretariat has help establish certified seed growers and entrepreneurs in the country, which has made it possible to procure seeds locally from the certified seed entrepreneurs to the second consecutive year.
Receiving the inputs, Mrs. Amie Fabureh conveyed government’s thanks and appreciation to FAO and the EU for their remarkable assistance to the Agriculture sector. She explained that FAO was quick to respond to a request from the government to provide this assistance to vulnerable farmers. She noted that both the government and share a common goal of ensuring food security and nutrition and sustainable economic growth. She described FAO as a longstanding partner of her ministry noting that apart from providing emergency assistance to farmers, the UN food agency has been consistently providing a range of support to the Ministry of agriculture and its specialized technical units. She said; “We are indeed very proud of the emerging seed sector thanks to FAO and the EU. We are proud that all the seeds have been locally produced and thus boosting the local economy and building livelihoods”.
Mrs. Fabureh urged farmers to devise strategies to become seed secure. She noted that situations like the Covid-19 pandemic should serve as a wakeup call to all.
Ms. Moshibudi Rampedi, FAO Country Representative stated that the government’s request for assistance with agricultural inputs is in line with FAO’s strategic objectives and as well as the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for achieving food and nutrition security for all. She noted that the assistance will restore the livelihoods of the beneficiaries, build their resilience and increase their productive capacity to guarantee food availability to their households. She expressed sincere gratitude to the European Union for entrusting its resources to FAO to execute the project.
Ms. Rampedi thanked the Government of The Gambia for the fruitful working relationship, which the UN Country Team enjoys with the government and partner institutions. She reaffirmed FAO’s commitment to collaborate and cooperate with the Government and people of The Gambia.
Other speakers including Mrs. Rohey John Manjang, Governor, Lower River Region, Alhagie Yaya Jarjusey, Chief and Jarra West, Morro Bah, Senior Seed Officer at the National Seed Secretariat and Aja Gas Ceesay, a farmer and seed entrepreneur all commended FAO and the European Union for the assistance.