By Bakary Ceesay
The Country Representative of the Food and Agricultural Organisation in (FAO) The Gambia, has said that the agency’s country portfolio over the past few years rose from $5.5million to $35million currently. The diplomat has come to an end of her five year tour of duty in The Gambia.
Ms. Perpetua- Katepa- Kalala on Thursday, June 27, 2019, paid a courtesy farewell to His Excellency, President Adama Barrow at State House. She had witnessed the last years of the former regime, the political crisis and the transition government’s journey thus far, describing it “incredible changes”. In terms of delivery, she said the FAO is delivering more than 10million a year to The Gambia.
“The FAO managed to strengthen the quality and level of assistance that we provide to The Gambia during the past few years. FAO provides technical support in the areas of agriculture, food security, agri-business, forestry and fisheries, food quality and assurance, as well as interventions in forestry, fisheries, and other sectors,” she told the State House press corps after her audience with President Barrow.
His Excellency, President Barrow expressed appreciation for FAO’s technical support to The Gambia. He added that their intervention, guidance and partnership had made the work of government less hectic and the vision of the NDP on food security even more achievable.
Over the years, the FAO worked closely with the ministry and the department of agriculture, and several other ministries such as environment, fisheries, education, youth and sports. It also partnered with government agencies such as the food safety agency, and the National Nutrition Agency.
Ms. Perpetua Katea-Kalala outlined some of the notable achievements registered by the UN body, such as the strengthening of the extension system in The Gambia, especially what is now called farmer field schools: The new scheme has over 10, 000 farmers who are currently part of the FAO programmes to strengthen agriculture extension.
FAO Gambia Office also supports the certification of seeds locally, the strengthening the monitoring mechanisms to ensure quality of food, better surveillance systems, linking farmers to markets, and value addition to grow the sector.
Cognizant of the impact of Climate change, small holder farmers and artisanal fisheries are engaged to understand climate change issues better.
FAO also supported the conduct of a livestock census, livestock vaccination campaigns.