17 January 2013

Gambia: Cabinet Donates Farm Produce to President Jammeh

The produce of the Cabinet farm cultivated in Yundum was yesterday donated to the president of the republic, His Excellency, Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh at a ceremony held at the State House ground in Banjul.

The produce amounted to 27 bags of groundnut and 8 bags of maize.

Speaking at the ceremony, Abdou Kolley, the minister of Finance and Economic Affairs said this is the second part of the Cabinet farm produce saying this year, they had two farms- one was cultivated in Jalambang village, West Coast Region with the help and support of the community produce of which was initially presented to the vice president for onwards transmission to the president.

His words: "So, as a Cabinet, we thought that the best way of demonstrating your back-to-the-land call is to go back to the land as a Cabinet and contribute by having our own farms where we will go during our free times and work with communities to help advance the course of the slogan- grow what we eat and eat what we grow. Because we thought if we continue calling on the people to go back to the land and the Cabinet is not following suit, the call is still lacking. So, the best way to strengthen that call is to go back and participate collectively as a family in Cabinet," he said.

Presenting the produce to the president, Vice President Njie-Saidy commended the farm manager in particular for his lead role saying the initiative is in response to the president's back-to-the-land call to realise the president's objectives of attaining food self-sufficiency.

According to her, Cabinet responded in a very positive way by going closer to the community which has set a good example for them [communities] to follow in response to the president's call.

Receiving the donation, President Jammeh thanked the entire Cabinet and the farmers in the villages where the various farms were located for this wonderful gesture.

According to him, the objective of a Cabinet farm is to help strengthen the bond as a family and to encourage those who were afraid to go for farming to realise that farming is not as difficult as people perceive it to be. "I am happy with the support that the Cabinet has given to my back to the land call. The slogan is that you grow what you eat and eat what you grow. But of course, that did not rule out export; before you think of export, you have to feed yourself first that is why the slogan is restricted to grow what you eat and eat what you grow" he said.

President Jammeh added that the idea of Cabinet having farms is for them to set a Cabinet fund as they don't have a credit account. "So whatever we sell, we will put it in the Cabinet account. From there, one can get a loan from it. But since you have decided to donate it to me, I want to thank you very much. Let me also assure you that the objective for which it was created, by tomorrow [today, Thursday], I will also create the fund for the Cabinet so that at the end of every month, all of us can contribute so that tomorrow, if Cabinet has any reason to spend money on anything, we don't need to ask people or do a fund raising," he said.

President Jammeh described the initiative as a pride saying The Gambia is the only country in the whole world where the Cabinet has a farm and produce something that everybody can see. "We are a small country but big examples come from small things. I think what we are doing is now been emulated in the neighbouring countries except going to the farm. I know some countries that are having regular Cabinet retreats; they have tried it and they know it is working very well," he said.

For President Jammeh, the mere fact that the Cabinet saw it fitting to go back to the land in response to his call, is a morale booster in solidarity with his objective. He described the agriculture sector as the largest employer of people of all categories and assured that the produce donated to him will be put into good use. He further thanked the Cabinet for the move and assured them of his continued support.

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