The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on Tuesday handed over agricultural inputs to the Department of Agriculture in support of the national horticultural sector master plan (NHSMP).
The items were presented at a ceremony held at the Department of Agriculture in Cape Point, Bakau.
The agricultural inputs presented included maize, cowpea and rice, vegetables, seeds, and NPK and UREA fertilizers, all worth more than twenty-seven million dalasi.
In her statement on behalf of the FAO country representative in The Gambia, the FAO deputy country representative, Mariatou Faal-Njie, said the overall objective of the FAO programme aims to improve the food and nutrition security of vulnerable population in the Sahel.
According to her, the specific objective is to safeguard and strengthen the resilience of livelihood of farmers, pastoralists and agro-pastoralists, as well as other vulnerable groups, threatened by the 2011-2012 crisis.
“Resilience is, for FAO, the ability to prevent disasters and crisis or to anticipate, absorb, accommodate or recover from those that impact nutrition, agriculture, food security and food safety (and related public health risks) in a timely, efficient and sustainable manner,” she said.
She noted that to effectively safeguard people livelihood which are currently threatened and improve their food and nutrition security, it is vital to reduce the negative impacts which the crisis has on food production and distribution networks, and create conditions favourable to recovery and restoration of their autonomy and dignity of feeding oneself.
She said the assistance is aimed at rehabilitating the productive capacities and increase the resilience of vulnerable household affected by natural hazards.
According to madam Njie, the assistance is provided through funds received from FAO, USA-OFDA, government of Belgium and the African Development Bank.
The provision of these inputs to the Government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Agriculture will help to rehabilitate the productive capacities and increase the resilience of vulnerable households affected by natural hazards.
She said further that it will also help to address food insecurity ,agricultural production, rising cereals prices and low resilience of most vulnerable households ,through strengthening livelihood of vulnerable farmers and agro-pastoralists’ households thus improving their purchasing power and increasing their resilience to the impact of shocks.
In receiving the items, the deputy permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Sherifo Bojang, said FAO, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, reviewed the key findings of the assessment and its recommendations on the forms of assistance required to meet immediate and longer term needs of the population affected by post harvest losses.
According to him, the provision of inputs seeds and fertilizers for crops and horticulture, and livestock intervention was identified as critical areas that need immediate attention to be addressed.
He noted that high priority is attached to the horticultural crop production in The Gambia as it has become a priority area for government towards diversification, food security, poverty reduction rural development and economic growth.