19 August 2013

Gambia: Towards Food Self-Sufficiency

editorial

Our country is endowed with vast arable land for agriculture. We also have a youthful populace that has the capacity as well as the potential to till the land for food production. More importantly, we have a leader who has the desire to transform this country into an agro-based food self-sufficient nation. The back-to-the-land call is a clear manifestation.

Agriculture is key to sustaining any national economy. It is the perfect channel to food security and food self-sufficiency. Agriculture is the foundation upon which all other developments are built.

It happens that a major goal of government is to transform this country into a food self-sufficient nation. This is because the leadership has realised that development cannot be achieved if we continue to depend on outsiders to feed us. Thus, President Jammeh's declaration to ban the importation of rice is both realistic and attainable. This is because President Jammeh has since put food self-sufficiency drive into its proper context and has been working tirelessly through many programmes to achieve this. The back-to-the-land initiative and recent efforts at irrigation agriculture are indications that the leadership is still on the path to sustaining our food production capacity. What is more important is that the people, with the help of the national policies, are willing to return to farming in order to feed not only the family but the nation at large. In fact, the step taken by President Jammeh to embark on massive road and bridge constructions is meant to facilitate that needed motivation and ease in linking production centres and the markets. It also strengthens the back-to-the-land call. For instance, the bridging of the SunkulayKunda River is facilitating the smooth and timely movement of people and goods, particularly for farming sections. Another giant stride towards achieving this was made recently when the Ministry of Youth & Sports and the Agriculture intensified the president's call for the Gambia to stop the importation of rice by 2016 with the deployment of 100 youths at Sapu to partake in Rice production as the first phase of the project.

The population also has the most crucial role. As citizens, we cannot be food self-sufficient no matter how much we produce if we continue to depend on imported food. The change in our eating habit is crucial in our drive to achieving food self-sufficiency as a nation. We should therefore endeavour to appreciate and consume our locally manufactured food.

The youths of the country should take this crucial advice, being the backbone of this great nation of ours. The food self-sufficiency vision can never be attained if the youths do not take up responsibilities in the development process of the country and in the food self-sufficiency drive. Let us, as youths, develop that self-confidence and sacrifice our time, energy and resources in our nation building process. Gambia is our own and so if we do not make efforts to develop it, nobody will do so.

Transforming The Gambia into a food self-sufficient nation is at the core of President Jammeh's aspirations. This explains why he did not merely initiate the back-to-the-land scheme as a slogan, but went a step ahead to lead by example for others to follow. We should therefore uphold his deeds in order to achieve our common goal.

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