The government of The Gambia, through the Ministry of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters, with funding from United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on Tuesday, 7 July and Wednesday 8 July inaugurated fish feed mills and aquaculture facility in Jahally, Central River Region (CRR); and at Kuloro, Kombo East.
The FAO-funded project is under a Technical Cooperation Programme(TCP) on ‘Support to Enhancing the Capacity of Youth and Women for Employment in Aquaculture’ with a total funding of USD 442,000.00.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony in Jahally, CRR, James F.P. Gomez, minister for Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters explained that the fisheries sector of The Gambia is divided into subsectors which include the industrial fisheries sub-sector, which is capital intensive and involves the use of fishing trawlers and the establishment of land-based fish processing plants.
“Artisanal fisheries activities, which involves fishers, fish processors and fish distribution and marketing operatives and their activities and are relatively low capital intensive, and the operators are scattered along the coastal and inland communities,” he explained.
The Fisheries minister emphasised that the newly initiated project can also create new jobs and generate revenue and foreign exchange. The country, he indicated, is particularly well positioned for fresh, brackish and marine fish farming and that the provision of these facilities will act as catalysts for enhancing food and nutrition security including economic development.
He further acknowledged the support government is gaining from FAO while challenging young people and women to take the lead in the project, as well make sure that the project is sustainable.
Also speaking at the event, Shibu Rampedi, FAO country representative in The Gambia, clarified that whenever they get an opportunity to work with government or the communities, and utilise the technical cooperation, they see it as a start and an enabler for more to be done.
“We see that building a fish feed mill can create local opportunities that are aligned to what is happening in the world,” she stated.
She went on: “Fishing as a sector cannot only rely on fisheries; there is an opportunity for aquaculture and there is an opportunity to make sure that facilities such as the ones inaugurated are built and supported over the long term to not only create jobs for the youths and women but to also support fisheries and aquaculture value change”.
Omar Bah, a beneficiary and member of the Kuloro East Youth and Children Development Alliance (KEYDA), lamented that the reason why people do not engage in other sectors of agriculture is due to lack of feed. Therefore this project, he noted, will serve as an encouragement for people to venture into it.
On behalf of the people of Kuloro and Kombo East Youth and Children Development Alliance (KEYDA), Mr. Bah thanked the stakeholders involved in the pilot project, while assuring the proper utilisation and sustainability of the project.