By Maimuna Sey-Jawo
Families from 900 households from the Central River Region North and South have benefited from the European Union Project entitled “post-crisis response to food and nutrition insecurity in The Gambia” jointly implemented by FAO, UNIFE and WFP in close partnership with the Ministries of Agriculture, Health and Social Welfare, the National Nutrition Agency, civil societies and farmer-based organisations among others.
The intervention was conducted through cash for work modality and aimed at rehabilitating the rice irrigation in Jahally Pacharr in the CRR South and Niani Sukuta in CRR North.
It also aims to support the capacity of vulnerable smallholder farmers to sustainable boost household food security and income, and provide a comprehensive package for them to use in feeding their families.
The project was funded by European Union at a tune of 11.5 million Euros.
Speaking at the closure of the cash for work project held at the Jahally rice field in CRR south, the FAO country Representative Madam Perpetua Katepa Kalala said the objective is to contribute to the reduction of food insecurity and also promote employment for young people in the agriculture sector, building their capacity, and improve food diversification in the Gambia.
The intervention, she noted, will help divert the runoff water in to the river and thus contribute toward minimising the incidence of flooding in the rice fields.
She added that a total of 397 workers representing 6,164 people from vulnerable households participated in the activities. The intervention also helps in mitigating irregular migration by creating short-term employment, she added.
In his remark, Omar Amadou Jallow the Minister of agriculture said the government of Adama Barrow was voted in by the farmers whose needs should be met. He assured the farmers that they will continue to collaborate closely with international partners to put their hands together to work particularly in the area of agriculture.
He thanked the EU and FAO for coming up with this ‘laudable initiative’ and as well for complementing the Government’s effort, noting one of the priorities of this Government is Agriculture.
“CRR can be food basket of the Gambia where we can produce enough food for our own consumption and as well export. I am appealing to the EU, FAO and the entire UN agency to come up with more support for the Gambia particularly to the Gambian farmers, without your help we will find it difficult,” OJ pleaded.
For his part, the EU Ambassador to the Gambia Attila Lajos, said the project is 100% funded by the EU at a tune of 11.5milliom Euros with the aim of improving household food security for farmers and as well give support to Agriculture in the country.
He noted that the project also provides income to households for them to buy food, pay their children’s school fees among other things.
On behalf of the beneficiaries, Haruna Gassama the president of the rice growers association, thanked FAO and EU for transforming their lives through providing cash to feed their families and as well for rehabilitating their rice fields.