The step taken by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation to support The Gambia so as to effectively deal with the pest whitefly is commendable as the request itself, which was earlier, made by government, for the world food body to assist in the strengthening of national capacity and knowledge in that direction.
The climax of the development came in the form of the inking of the Technical Cooperation Programme TCP agreement between the Ministry of Agriculture and the FAO with senior figures from both sides in attendance. Owing to the danger they pose to vegetables and fruit trees alike, it was good that The Gambia and the FAO moved fast to institute measures against whiteflies.
Pests by their very nature are unwelcoming, for the sheer scale of destruction on crops they can create. In just a matter of days, months of hard work can go in vain with pest infestation, thereby leading to massive economic losses and severe implications for food security at both household and national level.
As a matter of fact, the fight against pests transcends the supply of equipment from donor agencies and other development partners, but keeping in tune with the requisite knowledge to combat pest is even more important. Menaces like pests that know no borders can only be effectively dealt with when different national institutions work in harmony with international organisations.
Since there exists the risk that the whitefly, a tiny, very destructive moth-like insect could spread to other locations, this Technical Cooperation Programme between the FAO and the Agriculture Ministry could not have come at a better time.
With the FAO putting its weight behind the Crop Protection Services, indications are that a pool of experts could be at the service of The Gambia from the UN agency’s headquarters and regional office to provide hands-on technical support in a bid to enhance the technical capacity of CPS under our Ministry of Agriculture.
Equally encouraging is the fact that the Technical Cooperation Programme entered into by the FAO and the Ministry is consistent with the country’s medium term plans on poverty reduction and food security as encapsulated in both the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper PRSP 2 and The Gambia National Agriculture Investment Plan.