Banjul-The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the Government of the Gambia through the Ministry of Agriculture with the support of the European Union Delegation and the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) concluded a two-day virtual validation workshop of the Gambia Rapid Food Systems Assessment Report today.
The Gambia continues to fight high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition threatening the sustainable attainment of both national and global development goals.
It is FAO’s mandate to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living to ensure humanity’s freedom from hunger by promoting sustainable agricultural development and alleviating poverty. A major challenge is to create a more sustainable, inclusive, resilient and productive food systems within the framework of The Gambia National Development Plan (2018-2021) and the Agenda 2030 hence the importance of the EU and CIRAD’s support.
The purpose of the assessment was to identify key constraints and entry points for innovative policy and investment solutions for the transformation of sustainable food systems. The Food Systems Analysis is being undertaken in 28 countries with the support of the EU Delegations, the FAO Representations and other development partners who are driving the process in the participating countries. This intervention will support the Gambia’s implementation of both national and global development plans.
Addressing the opening session, Mr. Hassan Jallow, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture congratulated FAO, EU and CIRAD for the initiative. He described the workshop as ‘essential’ noting that it will enable participants to contribute towards strengthening of The Gambia Food Systems for a better future. He explained that the National Food Systems Summit dialogue and the adopted Pathways provide an opportunity to ‘refocus our attention on ending hunger and poverty and, building more resilient, equitable and sustainable food systems.
Ms. Evangelina Blanco, Programme Manager, EU Delegation to The Gambia explained that the validation exercise is the result of a good collaboration between the EU, CIRAD and FAO. She underscored the importance the EU attaches to the initiative noting that it is within the framework of the EU’s ‘Farm to Fork’Strategy, which looks at food systems, and the sustainability of food systems. She said: “We may find some good ideas where the EU could support to the Gambia in the area of food systems in the future”.
For her part, Ms. Moshibudi Rampedi, FAO Country Representative, reaffirmed FAO’s continuous commitment to support The Gambia’s efforts to combat food insecurity and malnutrition by providing pragmatic and sustainable solutions. She conveyed “profound thanks and appreciation” to the European Union Delegation, CIRAD, The Government of the Gambia through the Ministry of Agriculture, the consultants and the Rome based FAO team for their support.
She said: “To have healthy food, we need a healthy environment’. She furthermore emphasized that this EU, CIRAD and FAO assessment shows that all sectors should come closer to achieve food systems transformation. She invited the workshop participants to be active and provide their insights and perspectives on the right food system for the Gambia.
Highlights of the workshop
On day one, the discussions focused on the drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition. The meeting underlined the urgent need to roll out and to scale up inclusive nutrition sensitive interventions and strategies including improving farmers’ access to quality agricultural inputs, strengthening the capacities of farmer organizations as well as the agri-food value chain to combat all forms of malnutrition. On day two, the meeting discussed the levers and on how to implement them to achieve sustainability of the food systems.
Since 2020, the EU, FAO and CIRAD entered into a partnership with governments and stakeholders to initiate a large-scale assessment and consultation on food systems in more than 50 countries as a first step towards transformation. The three partners share a priority agenda to be part of supporting the global transition to sustainable and inclusive agri-food systems.
In May 2021, the Minister of Agriculture, Honourable Amie Fabureh, launched the Gambia Food Systems Summit Dialogue (FSSD). This was in response to the request for Member States to initiate multi-stakeholder Food Systems Summit Dialogues in preparation for the World Food Systems Summit to be convened by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres in September 2021. The Gambia adopted a Pathway of the National Food Systems Summit Dialogue on 17th August 2021 following several weeks of national consultations.
Concurrent to the food systems summit dialogue, a Rapid Food Systems Assessment took place in The Gambia. Although the UNFSS Dialogue and the EU/CIRAD/FAO Food System Assessment took place separately, they are complementary. They both aimed to identify blockages and areas for growth to improve food and nutrition security. Both addressed the need to prioritize employment, livelihoods and build a sustainable planet.