By Juldeh Njie & Aminata Camara
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with partners Thursday joined the rest of the world to commemorate the International Year of Pulses (IYP) at the KMC grounds in Kanifing.
According to the FAO, the event provides an opportunity for renewed commitment to fight food and nutrition insecurity, poverty, land degradation, diseases and poor health resulting from malnutrition and loss of biodiversity in the Gambia.
Speaking at the event shortly, the Mayor of the KMC, Yankuba Colley said pulses particularly beans are in high demand in the Gambia, saying “It is part of the diets of most people within the KMC, and are largely consumed by the inhabitants of the municipality due to its population size and market opportunities.”
“It may interest you to know that, the kanifing municipality has a population of 377,137 representing 20.3 percent of the national population of 1.9 million (GBS 2013, CENSUS) and Cowpea is one of the most consumed diets within the municipality especially during the month of RAMADAN,” he said.
Meanwhile, the FAO country rep, Perpetua Katepa-Kalala said the UN general assembly declared 2016 as the international year of pulses to raise awareness of the many benefits of pulses, boost their production, consumption and trade and encourage new and smarter uses of pulses throughout the food chain.
She said pulses are essential component of diet in many countries around the world, around 20% of global production of pulses is in Africa, pulses can therefore help to address malnutrition which is a growing public health problem in the Gambia.
“According to the Gambia demographic and health survey (DHS 2013), 24.5% of children under five were stunted, 16% were underweight and 11.5% were wasted while 4.2% were severely wasted similarly, vitamin A deficiency in preschool children estimated t 54%, iron deficiency related anemia hovering around 72% in this age group and 60% in women of reproductive age,” she said.
She said with funding from the EU, FAO and various public and private institutions are set to implement a four- year sustainable integrated food fortification initiative in the North Bank and Central River Regions and that beans will be among the key crops that will be promoted for bio-fortification to increase access to essential micronutrients.