Disunity will not be tolerated in Agric Sector

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Agriculture, which is the mainstay of our economy, needs to move steadily and consistently in this modern world.

We have to acknowledge that Agriculture is the nucleus of our economy, and in order to keep that momentum, distinction branches within agricultural spectrum must get themselves united and work in the interest of the nation. Failure of such will be a betrayal to our nation and can only put the whole sector in disarray and jeopardy.

Agriculture accounts for 23% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs 75% of the labour force. Within agriculture, peanut production accounts for 5.3% of GDP, other crops 8.3%, livestock 4.4%, fishing 1.8%, and forestry 0.5%, according to statistics.

Rivalry in the Agricultural Sector at this moment, when we need to come together as a nation that had suffered enough under the directives of a single man for 22 years will not yield dividend. We need to learn how to unite and rejoin our efforts together to uplift the sector from now here to an age of food self-sufficiency as fanatically dreamy by the former government – even after it became clear that they were not serious about what they were preaching.

It’s disheartening to learn that the division among branches in the Agricultural Sector has widen instead of coming together as one to move the country’s food industry in one direction.

It became known to many, during a four-day meeting of stakeholders in the Agric Sector, which commenced on Friday, at the Jenoi Agricultural Centre, Lower River Region (LRR), that the sector was in disarray.

The meeting brought together all the stakeholders (producers, traders, processors and exporters) in the groundnut, cashew and cereal value chains to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing the post-harvest handling (including processing) and marketing of the products in The Gambia and beyond.

Organised by Agribusiness Services and Producers Association (ASPA) in partnership with Youth Empowerment Project (YEP), fingers were pointed at The Gambia Groundnut Cooperation for not being truly there for the local farmers who believe that without them, the institution cannot operate.

The GCC has been accused by farmers for not paying attention or listening to them – saying the institution is not well managed. They charged the GCC for its failure to have a representation at the meeting that could have created a platform to raise their concerns. “If GGC cannot be present in this gathering to discuss things with us then I suggest that we should form a delegation and visit GGC on behalf of the Farmers,” says one of the farmers.

Farmers were equally dismayed by the failure of both Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Trade to attend the convergence, charging the two ministerial institutions for not putting the interest of farmers above theirs.  “We as farmers, we cannot just sit and discuss things ourselves since the various ministries that should be present to write down our constraints are not around,” one of the farmers said.

We wish to remind all government institutions especially our ministries that in governance, priority should invariably be given to the subjects first and that must not be neglected.

“We need to make sure the Department of Agriculture is promoting farmers and ranchers.”

Jerry Moran