Ebrima E.J Jallow, the President of Gambia-Sheep Breeders Association said his association stands to end the importation of sheep into the country.
Jallow said it is a fact that over 90% of sheep and goats are imported in this country from neighbouring countries.
"It breaks our hearts seeing the amount of wealth that is continuously ship to our neighbouring countries especially during Tobaski, this helps in creating jobs for their citizens and strengthen their economies while it deprives our citizens especially the youths the needed jobs and at the same time leaving us with weaker currency and economy," Jallow said.
He said they invested in small ruminant production to minimize importation of small ruminants while creating jobs for youths and women.
"Subsistence small ruminant farming is good, but it can never take us out of this hole this we are in regarding the availability and sustainability of small ruminants in this country. The government will agree with me that the only way to solve our small ruminant problem especially rams for Tobaski in this industry is to make it conducive for the private sector to invest in the small ruminant industry," Jallow said.
Jallow appealed to the private sector, NGOs and individuals to consider investing in small ruminant farming as it is a productive sector and a source of income for our youths.
"We have come to the conclusion that to solve the problem of Tobaski ram issue, we still need a fast growing breeding. We are pleased to inform you that the breeders in this country have found a solution to our problem," President Jallow said.
Jallow was speaking ahead of their planned programme where they will showcase their work as a teaser ram show for the upcoming ram show in Abuko from the 18th to 21st of February 2021.
Modou Sowe, the Secretary General of the national livestock associations said the government has been supporting crop production, "but can we ask ourselves what is the support the livestock farmers have during the past ten years? We have seen the government giving the crop farmers seeds, we have seen them giving fertilizers, but let's ask ourselves what are they giving us."
He said: "When you look at the presidential tour that is going on, most of his speech is crop -crop -crop where is livestock?" Adding "When we have the ministry of livestock, that will help us better and it will give us 100% focus."
He said crop production in The Gambia is mostly during the rainy season, but livestock is all year round.
"Why can't we focus on livestock production to develop the economy of The Gambia? Cropgrowing is just six months after the rains."
Dr Abdou Ceesay, the director of department of livestock says livestock production is contributing greatly in the economic growth of the country.
The livestock sector in this country contributes 7% to the GDP and approximately 30% to the agricultural GDP.
Ceesay said it also contributes to the enhancement of food security to household level and to the socio economic upliftment of the people. He maintained that it helps in creating jobs especially among the youths and women and also contributes as a source of protein.
He said the production system that is practiced in this country continued to be dominated by traditional practices with little use of improved management practices.
"Under this system, productivity continues to be low hence the reliance on import to satisfy the increasing demand on livestock," he said.
He added: "We continue to depend on the indigenous livestock breeds."
He said another factor why sheep breeding is not contributing to the socioeconomic development of the country is low participation of the private sector.
Ceesay said the Government has policies that aim to transform the livestock sub-sector to contribute more significantly to the country's GDP.
"It also aims to increase on a sustainable basis the production and productivity of the breeds that we have and again it continues to work in enhancing private sector participation and investment in the livestock sector."