Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New project to support Gambia’s forest policy

(Photo Credit: Agfax) In September 2011, the World Future Council honoured The Gambia with the “Best forest policy award”

A Forest Farm Facility (FFF) in The Gambia will support the full implementation of the country’s forest policy and also empower Gambia’s forest promoters, the United Nations food and agriculture organisation, FAO said on Wednesday.

The FFF, a project designed to enhance the organization and capacity of local people for them to engage in local, regional and national policy dialogues and decision-making processes, was launched by the FAO on March 13, 2013.

The UN agency said the project will influence the future of forest and farms.

The FFF will ensure that our forest is part of new existing multi-sectoral programme, which will improve the income of farmers, ensure food security, and the sustainability of the productive land farmers rely on, the project manager Jerker Thunbering said at the launch held at Kololi, Gambia.

Gambia’s Minister of Presidential Affairs Dr. Njogu Bah whose statement was read in his absence, said: “The new facility came at the right time following the overall agriculture and land reform policy that started in 1994 and the adoption of the agriculture and natural resource (ANR) policy in 2012”.

Going into history, Dr Bah said in the 1960s, the land territory of The Gambia was covered by dense and almost impenetrable thick forests rich in both plants and natural habitat for a variety of large mammals.

However, he said these plants and animals are now almost extinct because of rampant bush fires, over exploitation of forest resources and unsustainable agricultural practices.

He said the development of relevant policies has led to a process of better data management on forest resources, empowerment of a broad range of stakeholders (local authorities, farmers) to participate fully in national-level policy processes with increased transparency and a stronger voice on forest related issues.

The FFF supports local people to contribute their ideas and knowledge, helping to ensure that forest and farm policies improve their livelihoods, the FAO country representative Dr Babagana Ahmadu said.

This, he said, will enhance equitable and inclusive governance and financial mechanisms at national and local levels.

Based on demand, the FFF will provide small grants and capacity building towards addressing challenges. 

In September 2011, the World Future Council honoured The Gambia with the “Best forest policy award” on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly in New York, United States of America. The policy gave local communities ownership of the forest, which serves as a source of income.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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