By Rohey Jadama The National Resources Consulting (NACO) organized a Contact and Collaboration Fair for the Cashew Farmers at Sanyang Nature Camp as a follow-up to the 2013 fair held at Jenoi, Lower River Region.Mr. Kanimang Camara, the National Facilitator of Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) and NACO Director who also chaired the occasion, gave the welcoming remarks. Delivering the keynote address, Mrs. Mariatou Njie, representing Country Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO,) said the Forest and Farm Facility was launched in the Gambia in March 2013 with the objective of increasing the visibility and integration of forestry into other economic sectors. The forest and farm facility, she said, is a multi-donor programme, housed within the forest economics, policy and products Division (FOE) within the forestry Division of the FAO of the United Nations, and managed in partnership with the international institute for environment and development and the international Union for the conservation of Nature. “The primary source of funding comes from a multi-donor trust fund supported by Sweden, Finland, and the USA and from the German Carlowitz project. In the Gambia, the Forest and Farm Facility programme is guided by a steering committee of thoughtful, knowledgeable experts drawn from a diverse range of backgrounds, and come from all the Regions of the Gambia,” said Mrs. Njie. The FAO offical said the FFF vision is that smallholders, communities and indigenous peoples and women’s organisations have improved livelihoods and decision-making in the forest and farm landscapes. She noted that the fair is among the priorities identified by the farmers based on the positive results achieved after the first “contact and collaboration fair held in 2013 at Jenoi, LRR. “Forest and farm facility support to the Gambia will continue to improve the livelihood of the forest and farm community members in the country and will contribute towards strengthening cross-sectoral coordination and collaboration on sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resources management for increased production and productivity,” said the FAO official. The Representative of the Director of Forestry, Mr. Cherno Gaye, said the event aims to support the producer groups to develop their entrepreneurial capacities and explore opportunities to access finance as well as markets for the sustainable development of their products. This, he said, is in line with the objective of the forest and farm facility that was established. Mr. Gaye said this among others is to enhance the organization and capacity of local people so that they can engage in the local, regional, and national level policy dialogues and decision –making process, which influence the future of the forest and farms. He added that this is to ensure that the forest and farm policies improve their livelihoods, food security and the sustainability of the productive land they rely on. The Forestry officer said the FFF is currently supporting the Gambia to govern and better coordinate multi-stakeholder, multi-sector cooperation and dialogue which are important for the skills and will develop access to markets and financial opportunities.]]>