Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Drought Tolerance Tools Boost Yields and Resilience
In June 2013, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, FAO began implementing a three-year European Union funded project geared towards achieving Target 1C of the Millennium Development Goals. FAO Gambia sets about doing this through sustainable intensification and diversification of small-scale agriculture. Farmers received training in good agricultural practices, high quality inputs (such as seed of drought resistant crop varieties and fertilizer) and ploughing services. They were also provided with support to produce their own drought-resistant seed material, and to adopt safe storage practices under increasingly extreme weather conditions. This has built resilience into local production systems, allowing greater self-sufficiency in access to high quality seed and mitigating the risks of more frequent and pronounced droughts.
The increased productivity has allowed farming communities to cover their household consumption year-round and sell surplus on the market, whereas previously they often exhausted their produce in three to six months. The additional revenue allowed farmers to invest in fertilizer loan revolving funds established at the farmer-based organizations’ level.
Mariama Sillah, 45, President of the Darsilami Women Vegetable Garden, Sandu District, URR, said that thanks to the intervention “I am economically empowered”. She noted that most of the women have opened bank accounts while others have bought livestock.
Community vegetable gardens were also established, which deliver high-value marketable produce and also improve the nutrition of the communities. The gardens are equipped with solar irrigation pumps ensuring sufficient water supply without creating additional greenhouse gas emissions.
To date the “MDG1c Project” has directly supported 10,730 small scale farmers in 140 communities to increase their resilience to climate change and improve their food and nutrition security. Yields and farm income have increased by 67% on average.
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