The Gambia’s Forestry Policy Assessment for Better Food Security and Sustainable Forest Management Report was validated yesterday at the NaNA conference Hall in Bakau.
The FAO Forestry Department spearheaded the development of a cross-sectoral forestry and food security policy analysis framework to serve as a tool to assess the extent of linkages between national forest and food security policies. The department is currently field-testing the tool in seven countries around the world including The Gambia prior to its final validation.
The FAO recruited a national consultant to lead the preparation of The Gambia assessment report. Each national assessment report is expected to strengthen the contribution of the forest sector to achieve the country’s food security and nutrition objectives by identifying key areas for improvement within the forest and food security and nutrition policies.
In his official opening statement, Sambou Nget, the Director of Forestry said The Gambian population are increasingly aware of the contribution of forests to the enhancement of livelihoods including food security and nutrition particularly among rural communities.
He described the participants’ response to the validation forum as a clear manifestation of their recognition of the importance of forestry.
Nget revealed: “Feeding the world’s population is one of the most pressing challenges facing humanity in the twenty-first century. According to FAO, 925 million people in the world are food insecure, representing around one in six of the world’s population. With increasing impacts of Climate Change including extreme weather events the above figure may even rise.”
Forest and trees outside forest, he added can however, contribute enormously to food security and nutrition, saying they are a direct source of food and cash income for more than a billion of the world’s poorest people, providing both staple foods and supplementary diets such as fruits, edible leaves and nuts.
He thanked the FAO for its continuous support to the Government and people of the Gambia over the years particularly in the fields of sustainable natural resources.
Speaking earlier on, Mariatou Njie, Assistant FAO Representative, said continued deforestation, forest degradation and desertification has put forestry at risk.
“The recognition of the importance of forests for food security and nutrition could ensure that more attention is paid to sustainable forestry. Indeed, increased sustainable forest management would unlock additional and significant benefits to food security and nutrition,” Madam Njie stated.
She as well thanked the Government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Environment for the excellent relationship, which FAO enjoys with its government counterparts.