By: Dawda Baldeh
Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, the Speaker of the Gambia National Assembly has told Pan-African Parliament (PAP) members that “Africa is not on track” in attainting the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 which targets to end hunger and ensure access to safe nutritious, and sufficient food all year round thereby ending all forms of malnutrition.
Honorable Jatta made these remarks at the ongoing 11th conference of Speakers of African National and Regional Parliaments in Midrand, South Africa.
The conference is held on the margins of the ongoing August Sittings of the Permanent Committees of the sixth Parliament guided by the African Union (AU) theme for 2022: “Building resilience in nutrition on the African continent: Accelerate the human capital, social and economic development.”
Delivering his speech, Hon. Jatta described the theme as a journey towards the achieving the Aspiration 1 of the AU Agenda 2063 which envisions a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development, a key goal of which is to ensure a continent of healthy and well-nourished citizens.
“It is essential that we are gathered here to brainstorm on prioritization of climate-smart options and portfolios for investment with a view to providing innovative solutions towards the complex and integrated goals of increasing yields, improving resilience, and promoting human capital, social and economic development,” said Hon. Jatta.
The head of Gambia’s lawmaking body said food prices have been on the rise noting that it poses threat to the purchasing power of the poor that might incite social unrest.
“It is self-evident that Africa is not on track to meeting the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 targets to end hunger and ensure access by all people to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food all year round and to end all forms of malnutrition.”
Buttressing on the importance of budget allocation, Jatta urged member states to ensure that they allocate at least 10% of their national budget to the agricultural sector. “This must be the starting point,” he noted.
He disclosed that Gambia is among the countries that is within the target of the 10% budgetary allocation to agriculture, citing that it current budget allocates 9.93% to the sector.
“A review of the agricultural policies of majority of our member states have shown that majority of member countries have not fulfilled their commitments of allocating at least 10% of national budgets towards the agriculture sector,” he highlights.
African Leaders made commitment of allocating at least 10% of public expenditure budgets to agriculture. The objective is aimed at eradicating hunger and reduce poverty by half in 2025 through inclusive agricultural growth and transformation.
“We are aware that farmers in Africa have consistently been exposed to high variability in their production environment and therefore requires the use a broad spectrum of coping strategies including the selection of drought tolerant varieties of crops, traditional water harvesting techniques, and the diversification of income sources by combining cropping with livestock rearing and off-farm activities.”