By Saikou Suwareh Jabai
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Department of Fisheries, under the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources (MECCNAR), on Thursday, 25 August, 2016, signed a Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) Project on ‘Support to enhancing the capacity of youth and women in aquaculture’ at the department in Banjul.
The project, funded by FAO at a tune of D19,651,320.00, is aimed at establishing a solid base for the provision of and access to good quality fingerlings and feed, technical and technological know-how, and managerial and other skills to farmers and officers in order to turn aquaculture into an economically viable, financially-self sustained and employment-generating sustainable enterprise.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Minister of the Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Pa Ousman Jarju, said government requested for FAO`s assistance to develop the aquaculture sector in a sustainable manner. He explained that in response to the government`s request for help, FAO sent in experts who conducted an assessment which revealed three key constraints hindering the development of the aquaculture sector in the country. These, he added, are lack of quality feeds, adequate fingerlings and limited technical know-how at the department of fisheries to address the challenges confronting the aquaculture sector.
To address these constraints, the minister said FAO thought it wise to intervene with the $442,000 programme. He expressed delight that the project will help government to address the constraints obstructing the development of the sector.
While commending FAO for the gesture, he finally restated government`s commitment to continue collaboration with FAO in all areas within its mandate.
The Country Representative of Food and Agriculture Organisation, Dr. Perpetua Katepa-Kalala, said the government has set aquaculture as one of the priority intervention sectors for decent job creation, reducing poverty, improving productivity, and boosting economic growth. She said an estimated 200,000 people are directly or indirectly dependent on artisanal fisheries and its related activities for their livelihoods. She added that estimated catches from the artisanal sub sector in 2015 is 53,000 tons. She said the project will help to reduce pressure on capture fisheries, reduce the demand-supply disequilibria and help avert imminent stock depletion with the present rate of population growth.
She said the objective of the programme is a pre-requisite for the sector to develop in a sustainable manner and make a difference in people’s lives. ‘The Project will also contribute to FAO’s Blue Growth Initiative; the main goal of which is to improve fish supply for food and nutrition through more efficient and sustainable use of aquaculture resources,’ she cited.
She said the project will benefit forty three youths and women with twenty groundnut farmers, adding that twelve government fisheries officers will also be trained.