The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Thursday presented through the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, fishing materials to TRY Oyster Association at Katong village as part of its Telefood project.
The materials, worth D423, 000.00 are expected to directly benefit about 400 women within and outside village. The items comprised 10 canoes, 150 life jackets, 200 foot-wears (boots) and 130 hand gloves.
The Telefood projects are an integral part of its global effort to raise awareness and eradicate hunger and food insecurity. They are also a means for providing focused but strategic resources to community groups of smallholder farmers, fisher folk and others engaged in food and agriculture value chains, including livestock, fisheries, forestry and environmental management and protection.
Handing over the materials to the beneficiaries, the minister of Environment, Honorable Pa Ousman Jarju said the materials are meant to ease and improve oyster harvesting techniques and handling.
He recalled the annual observation of the World Food Day, which he said, is designed to figure out ways to funding projects aimed at augmenting the food supply chain of rural folk who are most vulnerable.
“We commend the FAO Telefood Programme – an initiative to look at those areas in the food supply chain where help is needed most in order to come up with the strategies and methods to intervene in such a way that food security is enhanced to the benefit of the needy communities,” he said.
The government under the leadership of President Jammeh, he said recognises the continued collaboration with the FAO-Gambia Office in the provision of materials and the necessary funds to bring about tangible and measurable changes in the lives of the needy with regard to food production and productivity.
The country representative of FAO, Madam Perpetua Katepa-Kalala pointed out that in The Gambia shellfishery is an important source of livelihood for many people residing in these areas, the majority of whom, she said are women. “Fishery provides employment, income, food and revenue,” she said. “The harvesting and collection of oysters is dominated by women who carry out all the different operations of harvesting, processing and marketing.”
She added: “The Telefood Special Fund finances grassroots-level micro projects of about D400,000 or less that help small-holders community groups to produce more food and generate income. To date, over 70 projects have been funded in support of community groups in The Gambia.” These projects, she indicated, have been in the areas of horticulture, fisheries forestry, apiculture and livestock.
She affirmed that the beneficiaries have also benefited under the TCP project on the development of artisanal fisheries through training programmes in improved handling, processing and preservation methods.
“I am confident that this will strengthen their capacity to increase production and reduce post-harvest losses, produce high quality processed oysters/cockles; improve food security and increase income of women.” She finally commended the government for its genuine partnership and for creating the enabling environment.
The alkalo of the village, Demba Jabang, assured that the materials would be wisely used in order to last long. He said that most of the beneficiaries are women, noting that it’s in line with government’s policy of women empowerment in this country.
Isatou Jarju, a beneficiary, who spoke on behalf of the Association, recalled how the village has been very renown with oyster harvest – to a point of dominating the market with a trademark ‘Katong Oyster’. She thanked the FAO and government for their collaborative efforts, which she said, has eventually led to this empowerment.
by Bekai Njie