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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum

Re: Eradicating extreme poverty: what is the role of agriculture?

Halimatou Baldeh
Halimatou BaldehFood Safety and Quality Authority of the GambiaGambia

Good Day to all members of the FSN Forum. I salute you all for availing me the opportunity to gain varied ideas on Agriculture especially from other African countries. To start with, i want to put it to any one reading my post that my specialised area of study from diploma to Bachelors level is Public and Environmental Health but i want to say that I am so much in love with Agriculture that I value it than any thing. The reason is i am an agriculturist by nature because i am born and brought up from a very tiny village in the Gambia whose main activities are only Agriculture.

Back to Question Number 1: If we want to succeed in lifting people, from extreme poverty we need to consider the following points:

  1. We need to value Agriculture knowing well that every body in the world depends in one way or the other on agricultural produce. In that the first thing we need to think about are the people that are directly involved in the Agriculture Value Chain, that is the farmer, the trader, the processor and the consumer. All farmers  must have access to enough land at little or no cost so as to produce in abundance to meet every body's demand.
  2. In the Gambia, for example, majority of our farmers, both in large and small scale are women. These women are involved in all forms of farming which include but not limited to: vegetable gardening, farming on different food crops, animal husbandry just to name a few. Unfortunately, these are people who are marginalised when it comes to land accquisition. In the Gambia, women dont own land but can only ''be borrowed'' based on the time they need it and this is some times difficult. Having said that women in the whole world need to legally own land to enable them do all kinds of agriculture without fear or favour.
  3. Another solution to the problem is to mechanise agriculture and do away with the old ways of farming in order to produce abundance.
  4. When I was in the village farming with my father, I cannot remember any time that he uses NPK (Nitrogen, Phophorous and Potassium) in his crops but instead we always use organic manure in the form of animal waste to fertilise our farm land. In this case if farmers are given adequate resources and rear animals along side other means of farming and enough space to keep and rear their animals, there will be enough and cheap manure to keep the land fertile in order to produce more.
  5. Another important aspect to consider to eradicate poverty is to encourage more processing of our farm produce to reduce food waste. In the Gambia for instance, we produce lots of different fruits and vegetables during different times of the year but once the season for those fruits and vegetables have passed, you can never see traces of them. Any surplus that was not be consumed when fresh must rot and be wasted because there are no processing proceedures for them. So a lot of investment need to be put in place for poor countries in the African Region so as to:
  • create more job opportunities for people especially the youths
  • be able to export to other countries( such as America , EU and Asia) to boost the country's economy
  • maximise produce and minimise waste.

6. Last on this but not the least, our leaders and policy makers need to close the Gender Gap in the accquisition of land especially in our traditional and cultural societies. We need to ensure that women have equal opportunities to farm lands just like theri fellow women. We all know that most of both our cash crops and domestic produces are cultivated by women using the most old and ancient way of farming, such as manually tilling the land,using hoes, etc.