8 May 2014

Gambia: Becoming a Food Self-Sufficient Nation


Agriculture is key to sustaining any national economy. It is the perfect channel to food security and food self-sufficiency. Whilst it is strategic for a national economy to diversify, it is equally significant for it to put more weight on the agricultural sector. It is the foundation upon which all other developments are built. It is quite obvious that President Jammeh's ambition in developing The Gambia's agricultural sector in order for the country to become a self-reliant nation. This can be explained by the fact that the president has realised that development cannot be achieved if we continue to depend on outsiders for survival. His strong determination to materialise this goal cannot be over emphasised. The back-to-the-land initiative is one among a catalogue of projects that are speaking for themselves in this respect.

It is therefore not surprising that the president is determined to see this country as a consumer of home-grown rice and as well be a rice exporter in the near future. Such an aspiration of the president can easily be put to reality as the necessary equipment for our agricultural take-off is almost in place. As a matter of fact, the president has provided most if not all the pre-requisites to facilitate a booming agricultural venture in this country. One of such pre-requisites is the construction of feeder roads linking the main production areas to the markets in the urban centres. With good roads in place, farmers can plunge into large-scale farming and hanker for more profit making. This is because market accessibility becomes easy for them. The more people we have on the field, the more the possibility for productivity.

A viable large scale agricultural venture expedites the development process by ensuring not only food self-sufficiency but also raising the income level of the people and earning the country growth in its GDP, GNP and foreign exchange reserves through international trade. The people, with the help of the national policies, therefore must be willing to become active agents in our collective development process. If there is massive response to the back-to-the-land call by the citizenry, much can be produced to feed the nation. This can further lay the foundation for a more efficient mode of production and distribution. For development to triumph in any nation, the ideals and practices must come from within and supported from outside. It is, therefore, apparent that there should be attitudinal change on the part of the citizenry in their response to the national development.

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