By Juldeh Njie
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) on Tuesday commenced a two-day joint consultation on Purchase from Africans for Africa (PAA) initiative, held at a local hotel.
The PAA initiative is designed to promote food and nutrition security and income generation for smallholder farmers through local food purchases.
With the theme ‘partnering to overcome rural poverty, eradicate food nutrition insecurity’, Mrs Adama Ngum who spoke on behalf of the Agriculture minister, said it is their vision to “transform agriculture into a sustainable, modernised, diversified production and export oriented sector, which contributes to improved food security, farmers’ livelihood and overall economic growth.
“But in order to achieve the objectives of PAA, there is a urgent desire for timely provision of farm inputs, particularly quality seeds and fertiliser as a package deal to certain specially targeted farmers for them to be able maximise production to meet the local demand of WFP supply requirement”.
She elucidated the aim of PAA, which according to her is to make Home Grown School Feeding a reality.
“It is a crucial component and will address the lack of supplementary feeding deficiencies in vitamin A Iodine with anticipated benefit of improving food security and increased household incomes of the communities”.
Speaking earlier, Ousman Ceesay, principal assistant secretary MOBSE, agrees that initiatives of this kind help promote food and nutrition insecurity.
Mr Ceesay went on to highlight the importance of purchasing in generating income for farmers and vulnerable communities.
“It is an innovative and all-inclusive approach of demand, supply and policy actors to support smallholders farmers and create friendly market,” he said.
He further stated the important role played by women farmers’ and as such PAA will help strengthen their capacities.
For her part, Angela Cespedes, WFP representative and country director said this consultation, which is being jointly implemented by the FAO and WFP, gathers valuable lessons which will inform a strong foundation for successful implementation of the PAA initiative in the country”
He said school meals are in the Gambia are “getting better” through the assistance of European Union, WFP and the government of the Gambia.
“In the Gambia,” he said, “about 24 schools are piloting this initiative and the communities who initially had challenges diversifying school meals are now providing children with more choice.
“The pilot initiative has a multiple benefit, in education and nutrition, and does not only increase local participation, ownership and local economies but most importantly, empower communities to actively take charge of meals towards more sustainable manners”, she explained.