Press release – World Food programme
The Gambia celebrated World Food Day on 16th October 2021 in Basse in the Upper River Region under the theme “Our actions are our future. Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life”.
The occasion, celebrated every year on 16 October, marked the 76th anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nation’s (FAO) founding. The event, which was also the 41st World Food Day became the second such observation made while countries around the world deal with the widespread effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
The day was also celebrated in conjunction with International Rural Women’s Day 2021 under the theme “Building rural women’s resilience in the wake of Covid-19” which is celebrated on the 15th of October every year.
The event was organised by the Ministry of Agriculture through the Department of Agriculture with funding and support from FAO and WFP. Activities during the event included a march past led by the local scout band, delivery of statements by the key stakeholders, poetry recitation by students, display of farm produces by farmers and entertainment.
In delivering the welcome remarks, the Governor of URR, Samba Bah expressed delight in hosting the event. He reiterated his region’s commitment and support for FAO’s mandate. He commended both FAO and WFP for their interventions in the region and noted that the region was now self-sufficient in poultry products. “I am proud to note that URR has got enough poultry to cater for the needs of the region”, he said.
‘Commitment towards food and nutrition security’
Mr Yasuhiro Tsumura the WFP Representative & Country Director in his statement noted that in line with this year’s WFD theme, WFP is providing support to member states on the Global Food Systems summit which was recently held in the margins of the UN General Assembly. He said that in The Gambia, WFP along with other UN agencies supported the government to conduct stakeholder consultations where the changes/shifts that need to be made to transform our food systems have been outlined in a national pathway document. He assured that WFP will continue to support the government to ensure these actions are realised.
Mr Tsumura added that during the Food Systems Summit, a Global School Meals Coalition was also launched with an objective for every child to have the opportunity to receive a healthy, nutritious meal in school by 2030. He said that WFP and partners are now ready to work with the Government of the Gambia to outline its commitments towards achieving the targets of the coalition. “I urge all of us, development partners, civil society organizations and private institutions, to take a holistic, collaborative and integrated approach to food security and equitable social and economic development”, he said.
Moshibudi Rampedi, the FAO country representative in her remarks said that WFD is a reminder of the importance of food to every person on the planet, and more importantly, a call to action to achieve food and nutrition security around the world. She said that the theme for this year’s celebration is a call for the transformation of agri-food systems to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to enough, affordable, safe and nutritious food to lead active and healthy lives.
Ms Rampedi further noted that given the ever-increasing population growth, it is important to look beyond responding to emergencies and consider building long-term resilience and changing how we produce and consume food. She acknowledged the impact of Agri-food systems on climate change and urged that efforts be made to strengthen the resilience of the world’s most vulnerable to economic adversity. “FAO was born in the wake of the World War 2 catastrophe in 1945 but COVID-19 has made it abundantly clear that FAO’s mission is as relevant today as when our founders created it. The pandemic has reminded everyone that food security and nutritious diets matter to all”, she said.
The FAO Representative also said that during the Food Systems Summit, relevant development partners made commitments to transform national food systems, to make healthy diets more accessible; for efficient, resilient and sustainable farm production, processing marketing, transportation and delivery. She called on all to join the commitment to take transformative action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals and the National Development Plan of The Gambia.
Reading a statement on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture, Amie Fabureh, Deputy Permanent Secretary Fatou Jammeh-Touray thanked FAO and WFP for their continued support to the Ministry of Agriculture. She expressed delight at the participation of the students and farmers in the event. She noted that the Gambia Government through the National Development Plan and the National Reliance Priorities, is working in partnership with regional and sub-regional bodies to address food and nutrition security as well as redouble efforts to consolidate gains by initiating programs and projects that have bearings on climate resilience. She highlighted the EU and FAO funded Food Fortification project as a visible indicator of improving food security and nutrition in the Gambia.
The event provided a unique opportunity for a sober reflection on FAO and partners’ efforts towards achieving Zero Hunger in The Gambia. The day was also a chance to call for greater commitment to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2.