Members of the West African Livestock Innovation Centre (Walic) recently concluded a day-long brainstorming seminar on food security in the region.
The seminar, which also discusses measures to safeguarding the environment, was held at Walic conference hall in Bijilo.
The chairperson National Livestock Policy Hub, Mama Mariama Saho, said the seminar was designed to support Walic member countries in efforts for a functioning and vibrant livestock sector.
“We have witnessed the establishment of the NLPH in 2013 whose main objective is to act as an advocacy and advisory body for the promotion of livestock sectors. AU/IBAR continued to support the strengthening of the hub which includes launching of the ARDMP, the training on ARIS and INTAPOLATE to name a few,” she said.
She said livestock data production and the management of accurate livestock data was attained by The Gambia through the Department of Livestock Services and National Livestock Census conducted in 2017 and supported by FAO.
“I believe with a functional policy hub and continuous support from AU-IBAR and other partners we will achieve our objective of a vibrant livestock sector that will improve the contribution of livestock to food security, safety, economic growth and wealth creation for a better Gambia,” she said.
The permanent secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Lamin Camara, said the importance of livestock towards sustainable livelihood for rural population cannot be underestimated.
He said conservation and utilisation of biodiversity is not only an obligation but also a matter of economic, scientific, social and cultural needs.
PS Camara said because of these reasons, animals’ genetic resources are the values that “we should recognise, develop, conserve and pass to next generation for present and future benefits”.
“As a nation, we are cognisant of the aforementioned and we are strongly in support of the global plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resource which provides an agreed international framework for the livestock sector,” he explained.
Meanwhile, the president of the National Livestock Owners Association, Ebrima Jallow, said the role and importance of the livestock sector in the country’s economic development and food production in particular has been recognised in the national sectoral policy frameworks.
“I would like to point out that the sub-sector accounts for about 30% of the agriculture GDP and about 10% of the National Gross Domestic Product. In fact, according to livestock experts, the share of the livestock sub-sector to the GDP would be higher if the value of animal traction and organic manure in the prevailing mixed crop-livestock production systems were also taken into account,” he asserted.
He said the Government of The Gambia is “fully committed” to the implementation of the GPA for a sustainable use and development of animal genetic resources, “the end result of which is eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, this being a national priority”.