There is a need for continued assistance for the most vulnerable people in The Gambia to avoid exposing them to food insecurity. It’s a finding in the latest brief from the Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture about The Gambia (GIEWS).
Citing the March 2021 “Cadre Harmonisé” analysis, the Food And Agriculture (FAO) early warning system indicates that “the aggregate number of severely food insecure people in The Gambia is estimated at 65 000, down from the 82 000 people estimated in March 2020“.
“If appropriate measures and responses are not implemented, this number is projected to increase to nearly 114 000 people during the next lean season between June and August 2021“, the GIEWS system warns.
The FAO brief identifies the main drivers of food insecurity as “the effects of adverse weather events (flooding and strong winds) and Fall Armyworm attacks on crops in some localized areas, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the value chain”.
The Government and its partners intervened in providing inputs to farmers. Yet, the 2020 national cereal production is estimated at 123 000 tonnes, about 9 percent below the average. Strong winds, flash floods, and infestation of Fall Armyworms affected crops in some areas.
However, the production in 2020 has improved compared to the last two years, where unfavorable rains characterized the cropping season, with a late start in late July and a prolonged break in rains in late August 2020.
“This resulted in delayed planting and germination failure of crops, leading to extra expenditures for farmers in both 2018 and 2019“, the FAO GIEWS explains.
Imports account for over half of the national cereal utilization in the country. Rice accounts for about 70 percent of the overall cereal import requirements, followed by wheat, which accounts for about 20 percent.
Land preparation for the 2021 cropping season
According to the Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS), planting operations for maize are expected to begin in May with the onset of the rains, while planting of irrigated rice, millet, and sorghum will start in June. The harvest of all cereal crops is expected to begin in October.
In most pastoral areas of The Gambia, seasonal rains are expected to start in July. Despite the ongoing pastoral lean season, forage availability is overall satisfactory in the main grazing areas of the country.
The animal health situation remains good and stable, with just some localized outbreaks of seasonal diseases, including Foot-and-Mouth disease, Pest Des Petit Ruminant, Contagious Bovine Pleurae Pneumonia, and Newcastle disease for poultry.