By Haruna Kuyateh
Natural Resource Consulting (NACO) in collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)recently held a daylong forum with beneficiaries and stakeholders in North Bank Region about contact and collaboration fair on forest products development and market linkages.
This was held under a community-based sustainable dry land forest management project funded by Global Environment Facility through the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
The forum dubbed as Contact and Collaboration Fair links locally controlled forest businesses to market support, and services institutions and organizations. The participated villages included Jifarong, Bajana, Badumeh Koto, and Seno Bajonki in the Lower River Region, Dibba Kunda-Fula, Mandori, Memmeh in North Bank Region, Njaw and Genji wollof in Central River Region North with implementing partners to the project which includes the Department of Forestry, Natural Resource Consulting NACO and Agency for the Development of Women and Children ADWAC.
Commenting on this forum, Bakary B Jarju, Regional Forestry Officer for North Bank Region said the synergy would contribute to the restoration and preservation of forest cover and contributes to sustainable land management.
He, therefore, thanked the community of Dibba Kunda-Fula for the laudable effort, sermon to the transhumance of small ruminants’ farmers to Sabach Sanjal district tribunal for illegal cutting of tree branches indiscriminately, which is against forest act and community by-laws.
Bubacar Bah a representative of the Lower River Region Forestry Office described the gathering as an important one, which would help farmers to work on sustaining the gain registered during the implementation of the Community Based Sustainable Dry land Forest Management Project.
Ebrima Dem, Natural Resource Expert at FAO expressed delight in the high level of community participation in the implementation of the project, noting that the display of forest products by farmers demonstrated their commitment to maximization of forest resources to enhance sustainable development.
He praised the giant efforts taken by NACO for building farmers’ capacity for forest enterprise development as part of the move to enhance entrepreneurial skills development on honey harvesting techniques and marketing to boost resilience-building on effective utilization of forest resources.
He noted that the benefits of the forest have gone beyond cutting down trees and as a result strengthening capacity for forest products development and enterprising would contribute to the restoration and preservation of natural resources that the FAO will continue to support farmers Based organizations to sustain forest protection through concerted efforts.
Alkali Jarjusey, Director of Capacity Development and Conflict Transformation of Natural Resource Consulting for NACO thanked Global Environment Facility for funding the Contact and Collaboration Fair through FAO and implemented by NACO.
He reiterated that the objective was to link the enterprise groups to support and service institutions, which will help in the further development of business and ensure sustainability.
However, he said the NACO aims to reduce forest degradation in the northern part of The Gambia through the strengthening and expansion of Community Forestry and the implementation of sustainable Forest Management SFM.
The service providers that participated in the engagement include the Ecosystem Based Approach (EBA) project, National Forestry Platform, Gambia National Beekeepers Association, National Farmers Platform, Youna Microfinance, Reliance Financial Services, Social Development Fund, and the Media. Beneficiaries have the opportunity to interact and find out the types of services provided by each and how can they build partnerships to expand businesses for economic growth.