The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture on Tuesday spearheaded a daylong micro-gardening Exposition and Demonstration training designed to promote Urban Agriculture, employment creation, income generation and food and nutrition security in the country.
The initiative follows a recent global initiative in which Urban Gardening is gaining substantial momentum. This very one seeks to effectively place Sub-Saharan Africa as a hub for Greener Cities Approach as well as Food and Nutrition Security Strategy.
The initiative is also mobilising support that could lead to the success of micro-gardens in all urban cities in The Gambia.
The FAO Resident Representative, Madam Perpetua Katepa-Kalala, who was speaking during an opening ceremony outlined the importance of micro-gardening, saying it allows low-income families meet their needs for vitamins, minerals and plant protein by providing direct access to fresh, nutritious vegetables daily.
The FAO boss further said that micro-gardens equally offer a source of extra income from the sale of small surpluses. “Micro-gardens are highly productive and can be easily managed by anyone – women, men, children, the elderly and the disabled,” she said. “Micro-garden technology has the possibility to create jobs in the cities for women and youths and to address food and nutrition security in urban areas.”
She disclosed that the FAO in collaboration with the city of Milan in Italy has successfully introduced micro-gardens and urban agriculture in over one thousand major cities in the world. Most recently, she said, FAO is implementing a micro-garden project in the city of Dakar in Senegal with a sub-regional outreach programme in The Gambia, Burkina Faso and Niger.
She explained that the project has successfully introduced the concept of micro-gardens and provides training on establishing micro-gardens. Famers and school children were equally introduced to this new concept of gardening.
Sariyang M.K Joberteh, the Deputy Director General at the Department of Agriculture, said that a great potential is attached to horticultural crop production in The Gambia and that it has become a priority area for the government towards diversification, food security, poverty reduction, rural development and economic growth.
He hailed the FAO for assisting the farming communities by improving their production and productivity in order to be self-sufficient in food and nutritional security. “By growing vegetable in micro-garden, urban people grow their own food to improve their own food and nutrition security,” he said.
He pointed out that micro-gardening integrates horticultural production technique with rainwater harvesting and household waste management. He added that micro-gardens are highly productive and easily managed and can yield surplus for sale.
He opined for that to be successful in this initiative, it would be essential to establish outset training and demonstration and equally engage public private sector support services.
by Bekai Njie