Top on the agenda of discussion were the various ways targeted at reducing poverty and food insecurity in West and Central Africa through increased agriculture-led economic growth.
The participants also looked into the prospects of improving on aspects of the agricultural research systems.
Hon. Kalifa Kambi, deputy minister of Agriculture, during his opening speech said: “The 1995 Commonwealth plan of Action on Gender and Development sets forth a number of goals, strategic objectives and actions to be taken for the advancement of gender equality, and has specific suggestions for the agricultural sector.” “The active engagement of African women in agriculture accounts for up to 80% percent of basic food produce for household consumption and market” he added.
Also making reference to the Beijing plus 10 conference that was hosted by The Gambia and the appointment of women in key decision making positions. Hon. Kambi said. We have a female vice-president, female ministers, executive directors, permanent secretaries, and speaker of the National Assembly, just to name a few”. “The women’s bill and the recent launching of the National Women’s Federation as part of women empowerment” he added, was a close indication of The Gambia’s Interest in Gender mainstreaming.
He explained that the approach of governments and donors to the challenges of rural development is to increasingly view rural development through the lens of ‘sustainable rural livelihoods’. He further informed participants that the dichotomy between the predominantly male research and extension service systems (sometimes gender non-responsive) and farming communities comprising mostly female farmers has impeded effective advancements in agricultural development in many of the African countries.
“It is generally accepted that agriculture-led economic growth is dependent on increased production in anticipation that it will lead to hunger and poverty reduction. Research contributes to this economic growth through increased market-led (consumer needs) technologies that will be adopted by farmers,” he stated.
Also speaking was the director of Research at the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), Lamin Jobe, who observed that virtually all African societies are predominantly agrarian, which makes the idea of diversification of agriculture important and the gender nature of agrarian livelihood and the control of resources have implications for livelihood outcome, including the incidence of poverty. The conference was organized by the West and Central Africa Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD) one of the four sub-regional organizations of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa