This column is devoted to monitor and report on issues that relate to production, processing, preservation and marketing of agricultural produce, aimed at ensuring food security in the Gambia as well as the interventions of Government and Non-governmental Organizations in this regard.

Agriculture remains both a new and old source of national revenue and (youth) employment.

Improved public awareness and discussions of the issues involved, will significantly maximize agricultural outcomes and the contribution of the sector to economic growth and job creation.

This is precisely the reason why Farmers’ Eye is critically looking at every Agricultural programme or policy, to gauge whether our Agriculture and Natural resources are properly harnessed, to ensure food self-sufficiency.

Section 192 of the Constitution states: “There shall be established a Lands Commission whose composition, functions and powers, shall be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly”.

This Act has already been passed and assented to and the Commission established, but yet to be functional.

Farmers’ Eye column call on the Executive to make the Commission functional, in order to address the series of land disputes in the country, as land is key to Agricultural production.

In the last edition, we highlighted the issues on indigenous peoples and other communities with customary land tenure systems. In this edition, we shall continue from where we stopped.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND OTHER COMMUNITIES WITH CUSTOMARY TENURE SYSTEMS

States should consider adapting their policy, legal and organizational frameworks to recognize tenure systems of indigenous peoples and other communities with customary tenure systems.

Where constitutional or legal reforms strengthen the rights of women and place them in conflict with custom, all parties should cooperate to accommodate such changes in the customary tenure systems.

States should, in drafting tenure policies and laws, take into account the social, cultural, spiritual, economic and environmental values of land, fisheries and forests held under tenure systems of indigenous peoples and other communities with customary tenure systems.

There should be full and effective participation of all members or representatives of affected communities, including vulnerable and marginalized members, when developing policies and laws related to tenure systems of indigenous peoples and other communities with customary tenure systems.

States should protect indigenous peoples and other communities with customary tenure systems against the unauthorized use of their land, fisheries and forests by others.

Where a community does not object, States should assist to formally document and publicize information on the nature and location of land, fisheries and forests used and controlled by the community.

Where tenure rights of indigenous peoples and other communities with customary tenure systems are formally documented, they should be recorded with other public, private and communal tenure rights to prevent competing claims.

States and other parties should hold good faith consultation with indigenous peoples before initiating any project or before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures affecting the resources for which the communities hold rights.

Such projects should be based on an effective and meaningful consultation with indigenous peoples, through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent under the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples and with due regard for particular positions and understandings of individual States.

Consultation and decision-making processes should be organized without intimidation and be conducted in a climate of trust. The principles of consultation and participation, should be applied in the case of other communities described.

Source: Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure.

Courtesy of FAO and CFS.

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