Hadrammeh Sidibeh, the Minister of Youth and Sport presided over the graduation ceremony of 38 trainees of the Gambia Songhai Initiative (GSI) on Saturday 15th February.
At the graduation ceremony of the 38 trainees held in Chamen, in the Upper Badibou District of the North Bank Region, Minister Sidibeh said his Ministry is entrusted principally with the responsibility of championing the holistic development of youth and sport in the country. He said the GSI is managed by his Ministry in partnership with the United Nation's Development Program (UNDP), Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP). Minister Sidibeh said the SIC Project is designed to tackle growing youth unemployment and increase poverty among rural populations of the Gambia.
"It is also developed against the growing need to transform the agriculture sector into a productive, efficient, sustainable and remunerative enterprise, especially among the youth, and to tackle the multiple challenges of food insecurity, environmental degradation and youth unemployment," Sidibeh said; that the project has graduated over 200 youth since inception, adding that this year, 16 females and 22 males graduated.
He said the GSI has absorbed eight graduates as instructors and assistants to support the technical team; that those absorbed in the project are working in the areas of feed mill and at the training department, soil improvement and effective micro-organism (EM), agro-forestry, nursery, garden, poultry and ruminant production units.
He dilated that the Songhai Development Model is to create rural cities to stem rural migration through an integrated agriculture, linked to industrialization and service provision, thereby making farming a viable proposition for the youth by creating jobs and sustaining livelihoods.
"The Ministry in its drive to expand our activities countrywide, has embarked on massive re-orientation of training areas and facilities with the sole aim of providing and delivering relevant marketable skills to Gambian youth, irrespective of where they reside in this country," he said.
Chief of Upper Badibou Ebrima Ansu Tamba Jammeh, applauded the Songhai Initiative Site in his district. He said the Project has the potential of solving unemployment among Gambian youth through skills training; that those trained at the Center will not wait to be employed since they have the skills to employ themselves and other people.
On his part, Dr. Saikou E. Sanyang, the Director General at the Department Agriculture said agriculture remains the driving force of the country's economy and contributes 34% of the country's GDP. He said Government's goal is to ensure food accessibility for every Gambian.
D.G. Sanyang said Government has plans to make food available to every citizen of the country by updating the agriculture policy to create the enabling environment for private sector-led growth in the agricultural transformation of the country, to avoid incoherent and fragmented policies; that the policy has created the right environment for commercial agriculture and agribusiness; that Government is investing to intensify crop and livestock production in a variety of approaches including irrigation, mechanization and the timely availability of quality inputs, animal feed and vaccines amongst others. He said Government is promoting the use of research, technology transfer and extension services.
The Gambia Songhai Initiative (GSI) is a Centre for production, training and extension of services in sustainable agriculture.
The Center is located in Chamen in the Upper Badibou District of the North Bank Region of the Gambia.