Gambia prepares against threat of locust invasion
Monday, July 30, 2012
in the agric sector under the aegis of the Ministry of Agriculture and the West
Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) recently organised
stakeholders’ sensitisation forum designed to prepare The Gambia against any
potential locust invasion in 2012.
The forum held at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi, was funded by the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme. Speaking at the forum, the Agriculture minister, Solomon Owens, thanked the organisers for what he called an important sensitisation forum on The Gambia’s preparedness against the threat of locust invasion in 2012.
The minister explained that The Gambia is in the Sahelian agro-climate zone, thus exposing it to unpredictable weather conditions including drought, floods, declining soil fertility, pest and diseases outbreak, as well as locust upsurges. “These incidences,” the minister said, “have overall negative effects on agricultural production and productivity, and consequently on food security and poverty alleviation; all of which directly put the realisation of our cherished vision 2020 at risk.”
In recent times, according to the minister, The Gambia had experienced a full scale infestation from 1986-1988,again an upsurge in 1994, and also recently in 2004/2005. He however stressed that it is important to note that the country in 2004/05 was not adequately prepared to control the outbreak. “It was as a result of that outbreak that the Africa Emergency Locust Project (AELP), funded by the government of The Gambia and World Bank, was put in place to strengthen the country’s rapid response to locust invasion,” he informed the forum.
The minister further stressed that the invasion of locusts in the sub-region requires both regional and national collaboration and preparedness, saying individual countries are expected to put up rapid response mechanism to contain any such possible out breaks. “It is against this backdrop that this forum is organised to share experiences and put in place the required human and financial resources to address any locust threat,” the minister underscored.
While asserting that information sharing between technical experts, policymakers, and development partners has been identified as an important step for an effective and transparent locust campaign, Minister Owens urged the participants to critically review and discuss theplanned activities envisaged in the event of any invasion by locusts.
The World Bank liaison officer in The Gambia, Alieu Badara Joof; the country representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Dr. Babagana Ahmadu; and the World Food Programme (WFP) representative, all expressed similar sentiments and assured of their fullest support to the government of The Gambia. The WAAPP coordinator, Sheikh Tijan Sosseh made a presentation at the forum.
Author: Susan Jatta