Embracing agriculture for self-reliance and employment creation

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Agriculture remains the most important sector of Gambia’s economy and the number one provider of food for the population. It is believed that Gambia can feed herself without relying on imported food stuff if the citizens take agriculture seriously and till the country’s vast and arable land for production.

This, of course would requires finance which many of our young people can hardly access in excess.

The latest young man the Youth Forum brings to the spotlight is Alagie Karamo Jammeh, a resident of Busumbala who is venturing into vegetable gardening to gain income and better his life status.

The 24 year-old started the enterprise some six years ago with product in onion, carrot, cucumber, lettuce and pepper. “My main objective is to provide healthy organic fruits and vegetables to the population and gain income after the sales to better my life and create jobs for youth and women,” Alagie told the Youth Forum over the weekend.

He said he sells oniosn locally at reasonable prices at different locations in West Coast Region and other parts of the country but appealed for support to widen his market scope to reach the entire country.

Individual commercial agricultural production is hard to come by in The Gambia, mainly due to impossibility to access soft loans from commercial banks to start-up the enterprise. Majority of the banks in the country are operating only on commercial base. There is no one agricultural investment bank in the country where farmers can access loans to start their business. “I work with women groups on contract basis to help me in the transplanting and weeding of my crops. I venture into vegetable gardening to provide food and income but I am encountering several challenges such as land for cultivation and water supply,” Alagie said.

Alagie is today relying on his vegetable gardening enterprise for his living while encouraging other young people to start doing something that can bring them decent earnings and bring new jobs to their homes. “At every harvest, I gain huge income after selling my produce. I support my family and other relatives from that.

He added that vegetable gardening has improved his life since he started six years ago and called his colleagues to venture into gardening to improve lives.

Challenges

Alagie said one of the major challenges he is facing in the enterprise is having his own land for production, saying he is currently renting the land where he is producing. “I am lobbying for support from development partners and philanthropists to enable me to acquire a piece of land as well as access to adequate water supply for my crops.”

He appealed to the government, the private sector, philanthropists, NGOs and companies to come to his aid to acquire a piece of land to continue his vegetable gardening.

Source: Picture: Alagie Karamo Jammeh and his customers after harvest