The Department of Fisheries and Water Resources in collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Thursday convened a daylong inception seminar on a Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP), at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.
The project funded by FAO to the tune of US 442,000 under a Technical Cooperation Programme to enhance the capacity of youths and women for employment in aquaculture.
It would be implemented by the Department of Fisheries within a period of two years.
Speaking at the seminar, the deputy director of Fisheries, Anna Mbenga Cham, said fisheries and aquaculture sectors have become a major priority area for development in the country.
She stated that there had been grave concerns over the declining performance of this important sector, in terms of its contribution to socio-economic development of the country.
The specific objective of the project includes training Gambian youths and women in aquaculture with technical know-how, and to promote the eradication of poverty through employment creation.
It is also meant to address and complement the government’s efforts in curbing illegal migration of Gambian youths to Europe, commonly known as “back way”.
In her opening remarks, the deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Fisheries, Fatoumata Sosseh-Jallow, said the importance of the fisheries sector to the socio-economic development of the country could not be overemphasized.
The government of The Gambia is fully committed to the development of this sector to its fullest capacity, she added.
The main objective of the project is to establish a solid base for the provision of and an access to good quality fingerlings and feed, as well as technical and technological know-how, managerial and other skills to farmers and fisheries officers, in order to turn aquaculture into an economically viable, financially self-sustaining and employment generating sustainable enterprise.
The provision of hatcheries and feed mill plants in the country by the FAO is highly commendable, since it is very significant for the development of the aquaculture sub-sector in The Gambia, she continued.
This was in line with the fisheries policy objectives and sustainable development goals, she went on.
In this respect, she added, the Gambia government is fully appreciative of the meaningful financial, technical and materials support FAO is continually providing, not only to the fisheries sector, but also to all food producing sectors of the country.
The deputy FAO representative, Mariatou Faal-Njie, said The Gambia continues to face challenges to food security, including low productivity, high costs, and a lack of modern techniques and technology.
According to her, to overcome these challenges, food security has over the years stood out as the top government development priority.
She further stated that FAO support under the TCP project would provide technical training, strengthening the capacity of farmers on aquaculture production systems and other assistance, with particular emphasis on poverty reduction, by allowing them to establish an aquaculture system that generates adequate profits.
The project would contribute to FAO’s Blue Growth Initiative, the main goal of which is to improve fish supply for food and nutrition through more efficient and sustainable use of aquaculture resources, she added.