The Taiwan-government funded pilot project is the third, after two unsuccessful experimental projects on aquaculture in 1970s and 1995.
Launching the new project, Secretary of State Touray pointed out that the two previous projects failed, as result of lack of funding and farmers participation.
He told the gathering that industrialised fishing poses a threat to marine resources, saying this was why domestic price of fish has been on the increase. However, he described aquaculture as the solution to the problem. “Aquaculture can reduce poverty and yield a lot of benefits,” he said.
He informed the gathering that a new Fisheries Bill will soon hit the desk of the National Assembly. He also commented on the integrated Agricultural and Fisheries Policy, saying this will be implemented through integrated approach- bringing on board all stakeholders to register results.
Assuring his departments support for the project, SoS Touray pointed out that DoSF&WR will partner with the National Agricultural Research Institute for the establishment of a unit for aquaculture. He said the creation of the unit will enhance diversification of agriculture in the country.
He then told the farmers to participate in the project, saying “it is meaningless to invest in aquaculture without the support of farmers. Our role is to formulate the policy and the regulations. You have a responsibility to support the project in order for it to be successful”.
For his part, Dr Patrick Chang, Taiwanese Ambassador to The Gambia, said the project is a boost to the Millennium Development Goal, for it would enhance food security. Ambassador Chang described President Yahya Jammeh, as one of the successful pioneers of aquaculture in the country. “He has a fish pond at farm and this shows that he attaches great importance to aquaculture”, he added.
He called on the farmers to support the project, adding that “we hope that it would be expanded countrywide, if it is successful”.
Dr David Bowen, Representative of Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in The Gambia, stressed the importance for the promotion of aquaculture in the face of the “continuous depletion of marine resources”.
He warned the farmers against theft at the fish ponds at night. He then admonished the farmers: “This is your project. You are the watchmen and gatemen of the project. If it is successful, other donors will come in.”
Dr Bowen then pledged that the FAO will explore possibilities to bring another acquaculturist to join the team to augment the expertise on the ground.
Kelvin Chen, a Taiwanese Acquaculturist, who is heading the project, expounded on the project strategy and benefits, while his Gambian counterpart, Famara Darboe, lamented theft as one of the factors that contributed to the failure of previous projects.
The Chief of Fulladou West, promised to mobilise his people to ensure a successful implementation of the project in his district. The ceremony was attended by members of the Taiwanese Technical Mission, farmers, and staff of DoSF&WR.