By Abdoulai Dibba

The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), on Monday 6th May 2019 handed over 1, 509 metric tons of rice to the World Food Program (WFP), for onward distribution to the most vulnerable farmers across the country.

This rice according to the Deputy Permanent Secretary Musa Houmma, is part of a 2, 734 metric tons of parboiled rice donated by the People’s Republic of China, to the Republic of the Gambia.

In delivering his statement at the handing over ceremony at Cape point in Bakau, DPS Houmma asserted that the rains for 2018 started during the first part of June, followed by dry spells and scanty showers in August, which eventually halted the sowing of major crops at the same time threatening the successful germination of seeds that were already sown.

“Naturally, pastures were also affected and this resulted to disease outbreaks such as foot and mouth and other high mortalities especially in small ruminants,” he stated; pointing out that multi institutional rapid assessment was carried out followed by a joint Gambia Government, FAO, CILLS and WFP pre-harvest assessment, which established that eighty-three thousand, eight hundred and seventy-two people across the regions, were in need of immediate food assistance.

“The People’s Republic of China donated 2,734 metric tons of parboiled rice to the country and part of this rice will be handed over to the World Food Program for onward distribution to the most affected people. This will be across the regions and will touch the lives of fifteen thousand and ninety-one families,” he concluded.

On her part, the WFP Country Representative Madam Waja, noted that the rice distribution initiative will be shouldered by WFP and the Ministry of Health in their ongoing Blanket Supplementary Feeding which targets children under two years of age, in WCR, LRR, NBR, CRR and URR. This she said, is a preventive ration and support that will act as a safety net for the young ones to mitigate against stunting.

“WFP is very committed to support Government to achieve positive outcomes through this lean season response. I would like to assure that WFP will continue to work under the strong leadership of Government, the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Disaster Management Agency, in close collaboration with decentralized structures, Governors, Alkalos, village heads, Councilors and community members themselves,” she asserted. “WFP will engage concerned partners for the smooth and efficient distribution across all regions of the country,” Madam Waja concludes.

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