interviewBy Sekou B. Nyassi
Because I have never had in a given year. In all the farms that I have across the country, when we put all the agricultural produce, in terms of groundnuts, the whole across the country, I have never had two thousand bags. This one farm I have more than two thousand bags and still threshing of groundnuts is going on and winnowing is going On. so, is a bumper harvest.
GRTS Malick Jones: You introduced the rice variety called Konkobayi, and it was sent to all divisions, as a pilot phase, how is it faring?
President Jammeh: Well two things, the rice varieties I distributed to farmers, to governors, as a pilot phase but also as a means of seed multiplication by the indigenous people themselves, so that they can distribute it in the regions, that was why it was given to governors. The minister of agriculture was supposed to supervise all this especially NARI, unfortunately they have not done so. But looking at agricultural programme, with Bakary Fatty, I have seen in that where somebody planted rice in the dry season and have only one well and his son who was going to school was the one taking care of it just like a vegetable garden and it was doing extremely well. So, somebody has a well and using hand with a pale to fetch the water and if you look at what he was cultivating, the crop look edso good. I did not also think of planting it in the form of a vegetable garden with only a well, in agriculture you learn everything. So, this has proven that even those vegetable growers, who have wells in Bakau they can both grow rice and other vegetables during the dry season. And so this particular one said that he got about one kilo from somebody. I think from the governor or from the chief and he was propagating and he thought he will get about twenty five bags from this small field which he was also going to distribute to the other farmers. So it is going very well because I have seen people saying that they have harvested twice or three times, and this exactly what I want. It is going on very well as well as Narica because when we started the project, the whole concept was to have a project at Jahally Pacharr and that's it and we thought we could be able to eradicate hunger and food insecurity and this was since independence. Now, we realise that has not been working, all that we have was bunch of people, who come and apply, get a plot of land and all the inputs and instead of tilling the land, they sublet it to somebody. Most of them foreign farmers who come and cultivate and at the end of the day pay what they have agreed and go with the proceeds and the Gambian farmers in turn will not be able to pay the loan. So, I said that is the way forward to ensure food self-sufficiency.
So, now what do we do under the Gambia food security project which is directly under my office which is my initiative. So, we give seeds free of charge, and technical backup to village Kafoo, the women and let them have what we called Narica farmers or Narica farms. But it is the intention of whole the kafoos. So, this how rice has been distributed to the whole country including the Konkobayi rice. To this village women kafoo. And you will be surprise that 2010, there was a bumper harvest to the extend that people were even calling my office for me to buy their rice. No, I am not going to buy rice from anybody. I also have my own rice. So if you acccess the rice store, by April, May, June people will buy it from you. And this exactly what has happened. So, this scheme had been more successful in terms of our policy objective of ensuring food security than the Jahally Pacharr project. So, is doing very well, sooner or later once we put on this irrigation system because we are entirely base on tidal irrigation and ofcourse rainfall, but now we want to use ground water so that our agriculture, farmers can produce anytime of the year depending on what they are going to produce and it will not be dependent on rainfall or the tide, and the fresh water part of the river Gambia.
Malick Jones (GRTS): Let me come to infrastructural development your Excellency we have seen some considerable developments, Kairaba junction was done, post office junction and Kairaba
Avenue also very well done, the street in Banjul are half way and there are plans for something more durable in Banjul, Stink Corner Mile seven junction. The road I think a lot of people are now avoiding that road because oF the bumps, and the traction is not very smooth. What are the pans for stink corner mile seven junction road and of course the roads in Banjul?
President Jammeh: I think Gambians who watch GRTS regularly already know and the people of Banjul already know what is in the pipeline for the roads in Banjul. The Stink Corner also you talking about everybody knows that we are going to fix the road. Now by the time they started work on them the rain came. There was no interval that would allow to fix the road, and obviously nobody expects me to build the road as it is, because it was in a very bad condition, but also any sensible person who goes there now the road is under construction. You don't expect us to fix roads in far up places and then leave these major roads in such bad condition. The roads are going to be fixed those that are to be upgraded will be upgraded. As I said earlier on towards the end of last year when we went round in Banjul, we have a unique problem in Greater Banjul Area especially more so between Banjul and Bakau, and Jeshwang area. Why? Because the water table is very high. And especially also between Stink Corner Mile Seven, that you talking about, that has always been a challenge and I want a permanent solution to this chronic problem. If you have watched, you realise that more money is spent on that area every two years than anywhere else, and you fix roads it sinks. So, if you look at it and they told us that the culvert is sinking, so eventually we realise that during the rainy season the water, the culvert will submerge. So, and then they told us that the depth of the mould is so profound that whatever structure you put there, unless it is in the form a bridge, it is not going to last, is still going to sink. And when they started to fix the problem, they were piling up, they were trying to back fill it with gravel and others to compact it and see whether it would sink, but it didn't sink this time around but we are looking at more durable ways of fixing it because we want to make sure that if it is fixed, for the next ten to twenty years we don't need to touch that part again. And so also, every two years we fix a street in Banjul. All the major streets in Banjul have to be fixed every two years.Why? Because in Banjul, I think the water table is highest than anywhere else for the simple reason that Banjul is below sea level and in most of Banjul if you dig two metres you reach the water table and that is not possible to have a swimming pool in Banjul, unless a swimming pool more than 1.5 metres deep is not possible in Banjul, because the water table is very high. So now the National Road Authority together with the ministry of works have come up with a recommendation, that was what solved the problem once and for all. At least for the next twenty years, and that was coming up with a system where we concrete the streets with a certain thickness to ensure that for the next twenty years, the streets that would be taken care off would no longer require by annual maintenance. So this is what we are working on. So, ofcourse the streets in Banjul will be paved and of course also you remember that the MDG for 2015 right, but also what a coincidence. The MDG, the deadline for the achievement of the MDG also coincide with our 50th independence anniversary. So we don't want to wait until next year 24th then we start fixing the roads, or the year itself because we have only 2014 to fix this, because 2015 February is independence. So, we have to start fixing whatever we want to fix from now so that we have two years lead time, 24 months to fix whatever we want to fix, in commemoration of our 50th independence anniversary. So all these roads that you are talking about are in the Greater Banjul area, by the Grace of the All Mighty Allah the roads will be fixed.
TO BE CONTINUED