Abdoulai G. Dibba

The Gambia joined the rest of the world to celebrate World Food Day (WFD), on the 16th of October 2018, in Jarra Soma, in the Lower River Region of the Gambia.

World Food Day is a day that is observed every October 16th and is a day when people take action to get rid of hunger during their lifetimes, and a day when people reflect on that fact that food is a basic human right.

The theme for this year’s celebration is: ‘Our Actions are our Future’ and ‘A Zero Hunger World by 2030 is Possible’.

In his welcome remarks, the Governor of Lower River Region Fanta Bojang Samateh Manneh, indicated, that WFD is celebrated globally every 16th of October, to raise issues surrounding hunger and malnutrition.

The LRR Governor asserted that according to New UN Reports, World Hunger which is driven by conflicts and climate change, is on the rise; that in September 2017, approximately 815 million (11%) of the global population are now hungry, and millions of children are at risk of malnutrition with 155 million children aged under 5, are stunted while 52 million suffer from wasting (or weight too low for their heights).

She continued that Government of the Gambia attaches great significance to food and nutrition security, thus creating an agency responsible for coordinating food and nutrition related issues in the country, and creating a Ministry responsible for Agriculture as well as prioritizing the sector as the lead driver of the country’s economy, as highlighted in the National Development Plan (NDP), (2018-2021).

“The objectives of WFD celebrations is to trigger and encourage attention to food production and to stimulate all efforts towards this direction,” the Governor concludes.

Delivering a statement on the occasion on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) representative Dr. Perpetua Katepa-Kalala, the World Food Program (WFP) representative Madame Wanja, pointed out that WFD aims to remind the international community of its fundamental political commitment to humanity, in the drive to eradicate all forms of malnutrition; that the day serves as an occasion to celebrate rural women for their hard work and enduring commitment to the wellbeing of families and communities. Madame Wanja noted that the day is to raise awareness that achieving zero hunger globally by 2030, is still possible.

“All Governments including the Government of the Gambia with support of development partners, have a fundamental role in achieving zero hunger by ensuring that vulnerable people have sufficient income to buy the food they need or have the means to produce it for themselves,” she stated.

She stated that the message today is to review their commitment and the political support towards a sustainable world free from hunger and all forms of malnutrition. “Achieving ZERO Hunger by 2030 is possible but it calls for a multi-disciplinary approach to resolving issues of food insecurity, malnutrition, social protection and gender equality across all levels,” she concluded.

In delivering his statement, the Minister of Agriculture Lamin N. Dibba, said FAO celebrates WFD on the 16th day of every October, to commemorate the founding of the organization in 1945.

“This year, the World Food Day intends to remind every country, of its fundamental political commitment to humanity, the eradication of all forms of malnutrition, and to raise awareness that achieving a Hunger free world by 2030, is still possible,” he stated.

Minister Dibba went on to say that they are aware of the huge challenges facing their countries in their drive to end hunger, as malnutrition continues to be a major public health concern with most vulnerable groups, women and children, the majority of whom live in rural areas; that this year’s celebration will focus on rising hunger figures and call on countries and other stakeholders to get back on track in achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 2): Zero Hunger.

“We can become the Zero Hunger generation, the first generation to eliminate hunger from the planet, if we join forces across nations, continents, different sectors and professions and act on the evidence,” he concludes.

After the launching of the celebration, the best farmers on crop production, livestock, and processing, were awarded prizes.

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