Our country is endowed with vast arable land for agriculture. We also have a youthful populace that has the capacity as well as the potentials 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. The confidence of the leadership on cabinet's commitment to the country's fight against hunger will no doubt boost the moral of those at the helm of the affairs of the country in terms of galvanising efforts to kick hunger out. And at this time that many of our youths are losing their lives on the oceans, in desperate attempts to go in search of greener pastures in Europe, such recognition of the strength in our material and human resources by the leadership can easily boost confidence among the masses particularly the youths, to make agriculture a profitable enterprise instead of giving in to the back way syndrome.
However, this recognition should also be extended to farmers through the provision of skills and techniques to them so that production can be maximised. The primary goal of the average farmer is to feed the family well. Farmers need to be supervised on a target-based approach to produce enough food to feed their families well and to sell the surplus. This way, the food problem will be solved and poverty reduction, export promotion, rural employment, national food security and the empowerment of the farmers of the country will all make headway. There should also be in place control mechanisms from the part of the government to protect the local foodstuffs. Leadership can be instrumental in that - ensuring that the policies and programmes of the state are in defence of our local markets and to carve the way to our food independence. 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 habits 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 stop at initiating the back-to-the-land scheme or slogan, but he went ahead to lead by example for others to follow. We should therefore emulate and embrace his deeds in order to achieve our common goal.