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 on 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.

In the last editions, we indicated that Section 192 of the Constitution states: “There shall be established a Land 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 but the Commission is yet be functional.

‘Farmers’ Eye’ called on the Executive to make this Commission functional, to address the series of land disputes in the country, and highlighted that the major constraint of Agriculture which is land, is key to Agricultural production and that Land disputes are on the increase particularly at this time of the year, when the rainy season is here.

We also started dealing with policy, legal and organizational frameworks related to tenure in the last edition. In this edition, we shall continue from where we stopped: POLICY, LEGAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL FRAMEWORKS RELATED TO TENURE.

States should ensure that policy, legal and organizational frameworks for land tenure governance recognize and respect, in accordance with national laws, legitimate tenure rights including legitimate customary tenure rights that are not currently protected by law and facilitate, promote and protect the exercise of tenure rights. Frameworks should reflect the social, cultural, economic and environmental significance of land, fisheries and forests. States should provide frameworks that are non-discriminatory and promote social equity and gender equality. Frameworks should reflect the interconnected relationships between land, fisheries and forests and their uses, and establish an integrated approach to their administration.

States should consider the particular obstacles faced by women and girls with regard to tenure and associated tenure rights, and take measures to ensure that legal and policy frameworks provide adequate protection for women and that laws that recognize women’s tenure rights are implemented and enforced. States should ensure that women can legally enter into contracts concerning tenure rights on the basis of equality with men and should strive to provide legal services and other assistance to enable women to defend their tenure interests.

States should develop relevant policies, laws and procedures through participatory processes involving all affected parties, ensuring that both men and women are included from the outset. Policies, laws and procedures should take into account the capacity to implement. They should incorporate gender-sensitive approaches, be clearly expressed in applicable languages, and widely publicized.

States should place responsibilities at levels of government that can most effectively deliver services to the people. States should clearly define the roles and responsibilities of agencies dealing with tenure of land, fisheries and forests. States should ensure coordination between implementing agencies, as well as with local governments, and indigenous peoples and other communities with customary tenure systems.

States should define and publicize opportunities for civil society, private sector and academia to contribute to developing and implementing policy, legal and organizational frameworks as appropriate.

States and other parties should regularly review and monitor policy, legal and organizational frameworks to maintain their effectiveness. Implementing agencies and judicial authorities should engage with civil society, user representatives and the broader public to improve services and endeavour to prevent corruption through transparent processes and decision-making. Information about changes and their anticipated impacts should be clearly stated and widely publicized in applicable languages.

States should recognize that policies and laws on tenure rights operate in the broader political, legal, social, cultural, religious, economic and environmental contexts. Where the broader contexts change, and where reforms to tenure are therefore required, States should seek to develop national consensus on proposed reforms.

Source: Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure. Courtesy of FAO and CFS.

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