By Olimatou Coker
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and partners on Wednesday validated National Agriculture Sample Survey (NASS), its newly developed Marketing Information Systems (MIS) and website to facilitate the collection and dissemination of enhance productivity at a validation held in Banjul planning service unit.
The innovation speaks to Sustainable Development Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure investment.
The new technology and platform facilitate the collection and dissemination of market prices and agricultural information to help improve the agency’s engagement with stakeholders to enhance productivity.
FAO, the organization that facilitated the development of the website and Market Information System, conducted the validation exercise with support from the European Union (EU) funded project “Agriculture for Economic Growth”, that focuses on creating sustainable growth in the agricultural sector and reduce food insecurity and malnutrition to mitigate migration flows to Europe. FAO is the lead implementing agency, and partners with WFP among others.
As the leading United Nations organization working tireless to build a world free from hunger and malnutrition, FAO believes this new technology and online platforms could not have been validated at a better time.
Sabina K. Mendy, principal planner and head of statistics at agriculture planning services (PSU), also doubling as the Focal Point for the new system, expressed delight in having such systems developed for the institution while citing its importance in facilitating their day-to-day operation and routine activities.
He added that, they would play an important role in the management of agricultural information and enhance market information access, transparency, and dissemination.
“Indeed, we would not have been here without the hard work and dedication of the “Forte Innovation Team”, that developed the system.”
She expressed her appreciation to FAO and the EU for funding the system development.
Ousman M. Bojang, the Food Security and Market Specialist and Technical Assistant (TA) to PSU, thanked the audience on behalf of the Agriculture for Economic Growth Project Coordinator, Ms Louise Tine.
Bojang highlighted, that this particular system development is in line with objective #3 of the EU funded Envelop-A project with a key result of improving information gathering and dissemination on food security and nutrition. He remarked that through this project component, the Planning Services Unit is a beneficiary of a fully developed MIS database for both market and crop production and a functional website for the public.
“We are optimistic that these systems will be fully utilized by the PSU to curb the gap of data management and information sharing which is critical for agricultural development and economic growth”, he declared, while asserting that these systems have multiple benefits. Most noticeably, it will make manual work a thing of the past, and make information available in real time, thus providing time to planners and decision makers to focus on other strategic priorities. He concluded by extending gratitude to the “Forte Innovations Company” for delivering a solution-based system for Planning Services Unit and to the European Union for the funding.
The Director of the PSU Mr. Jerro Maane, opened the validation meeting and noted the importance of timely and accurate crop and livestock production data in food security policy decision making. He strongly emphasized that reliable and essential agricultural data are crucial to generate constructive efforts and realistic development planning.
He added the NASS and MIS system will improve engagement with stakeholders including policy makers, staff and the general public. Maane also mentioned that the system will specifically improve real time mobile data collection from the field and the web-based application will allow users to freely access agricultural statistics and commodity prices.
Director Maane thanked FAO for the unflinching support being rendered to the people of the Gambia through PSU.