Abdoulai G. Dibba
Forest and Farm Facility initiative (FFF) together with stakeholders, have recently met at Tendaba Camp in the Lower River Region, to assess progress in programme implementation in 2017 and to brain storm on how the country will benefit from the second phase of the initiative next year.
The FFF is an initiative from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), to support countries to improve their Governance structures at different levels (local, national and regional), to achieve sustainable forest landscape management.
The initiative was launched in March 2013 and the Gambia has been a beneficiary of the initiative, through the National Farmers Platform of the Gambia, for the organization of forest and farm producers at the national and subnational levels, to engage in policy dialogue, review, monitoring and implementation of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy, and to engage with Government institutions in A cross-sectoral, multi stakeholder platform with nine small grants to primarily women groups.
In addition, a total of 24 community forestry committees were trained in MA and D in 2015 which led to the identification of six “main products” (ecotourism, handicraft making, beekeeping, nursery management, timber and firewood production), described in 50 community forestry management plans.
The outcomes of the two-day National Stakeholders Meeting on Forest and Farm Facility Monitoring and Learning Framework, will enable stakeholders to assess whether the expected results were met or not, and prepare for further interventions.
In his welcome statement, the Chief of Kiang Central District, Alhagie Demba Sanyang, thanked FAO, IIED and IUCN for supporting the country through the FFF initiative; that their communities have gained ownership of their community forests and that the recent nationwide tour of the Ministry of Environment, handed over 39 community forests to the 77 communities’ forest that were handed over in 2015. He thanked the FFF and their partners for facilitating the process and called on the communities to be mindful of bushfires as it could set the whole project backward.
The President of National Farmers Platform Alagie Basse Mboge indicated that head Chiefs of Kiang Central are members of their regional taskforce making the handing over of the community forest to the local communities successful; that they are gathered for the monitoring and learning of their previous activities. The NFP President stated that the last tour of the Minister of Environment indicates that all the projects in the Gambia should emulate the FFF activities which the Minister highly commended; that the FFF has been supporting farmers to increase food production within farming communities which has linked them to regional networks. According to Mr. Mboge, they have structured many farmer base organizations through the support of the FFF.
He concluded by calling on the farmer based organisations to take their work seriously in the interest of their members and the country.
The FAO Regional Country Coordinator for the Gambia, Ms Sophie Gronwell, applauded Gambians for the New Democracy and indicated that they are gathered to learn of the impact and the results of the first phase that is just ending.
“There are so many initiatives starting in the new Gambia and you have something very valuable that you can sell to international donors and partners which is your success stories, achievements and the gaps in the implementation of the FFF’s programmes” she said.
She concluded that they will launch the next phase in early January next year; that with the ten countries where they have done a lot of work, many of them like to have a second phase.
Ansumana Tamba, a Forestry Officer asserted that the Department of Forestry has collaborated with FFF since the beginning and are happy with the outcome of the successful implementation of the programme.