By Fatoumatta k Jallow
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the Department of Fisheries on Thursday 2 march 2017 initiated a US$442,000 Technical Cooperation Programme (TPC) at a one day inception workshop held at the Kairaba Beach hotel. This workshop is meant to support and enhance the capacity of youth and women for employment in aquaculture.
Mariatou Faal Njie representative of FAO said the Gambia continues to face challenges to food security including low productivity, high costs and a lack of modern technique and technology.
She added that to overcome these challenges, food security has over the years stood out as the government’s top development priority. Globally also the sustainable development goals (SDG2) place special focus on ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture, she noted.
She noted that aquaculture in The Gambia is being promoted with the intent to fill the gap between declining fish production from inland resources and the increasing demand for fish proteins from the growing population particularly in urban areas. “This makes the need for sustainable management of aquatic farms to be high on the national agenda for the government of The Gambia and the population at large especially the rural population.
She highlighted that the government of The Gambia has set aquaculture as one of the priority intervention sectors for decent job creation especially for youth and women in reducing poverty, improving productivity, and boosting economic growth.
Anna Mbenga Cham the Deputy Director of fisheries representing the Director said fisheries and agriculture sectors have become a major priority area for development in the country. However, there had been grave concerns over the declining performance of this important sector in terms of its contribution to the socio-economic development of the country.
“According to an FAO report, 57% of fishery resources are already fully exploited, and 29.9% of fishery resources are over exploited. Only 12.7% of fishery resources have a margin for further exploitation.
She said the current situation surrounding the world fisheries, about 80% of the catches are by developed countries and 90% or even more of fishing operations are conducted within EEZs. “Considering such situation surrounding fishery resources, this brings aquaculture into perspective as an alternative to create youth employment, increase fish supply in consumption for both the costal and rural areas especially the resources for both consumers at affordable prices.
She added that the specific objectives are to train Gambian youths and women in aquaculture, fisheries conservation and management and also to promote the eradication of poverty through employment creation and to ensure the sustainable exploitation and utilization of fish resources to address and complement government efforts in curbing illegal migration of the Gambian youths to Europe commonly known as “Back Way”.
In conclusion she said the expected outcome of the project is Gambian youths and women participation in aquaculture, conservation and management of fisheries resources improved with knowledge on culture fisheries.
Fatoumatta Sosseh Jallow representing the Minister of Fisheries said the main objective of this project is to establish a solid base for the provision of an access to good quality fingerlings and feed, technical and technological know-how, managerial and other skills to farmers and fisheries officers.
She said in order to turn aquaculture into an economical viable, financially-self sustained and employment-generating sustainable enterprise, it is pre-requisite for the sector to develop in a sustainable manner and make a difference in people’s lives.