OPINION: THE SOIL OF THE COUNTRY, THE ANIMALS AND THE SEAFOOD ARE THE NATURAL GIFT TO THE GAMBIA

Monday, August 14, 2017

Research has shown that we Gambians are not paying the attention, deserved in the management of these Three Factors and as a result we are held hostage and are paying high price.

At the moment, the visible high price we are paying is the high cost of a kilo of meat/mutton. The complaint is that meat which had in the past been part of the Gambian diet, have now ceased being so.

The reason for this is that we can no longer afford the cost of meat, as its price and that of mutton are too high and are out of the reach of the majority of the Gambian people.

The evidence is at the moment meat is sold at D200 per Kilo and mutton D225 per kilo. To add injury to our problem, only a few days ago, the price of meat and mutton have been increased, each by D25. A kilo of meat is now D225, and a kilo of mutton D250 each.

It is now becoming a common practice, anytime the Gambian public more so when the festivity of Tobaski is round the corner, and there is a huge cry about high cost of cow/sheep and their products that are the time animal dealers and livestock association seem to be riding roughshod on the feelings of the public. They, for some reason known to them alone, prefer to ignore the complaint of the people.

This is a challenge and a very serious one to the sovereignty of the people and the past government. And nothing visible has been done to convince us they have the capability to tackle this heinous problem. All we are told in defense of this is that we Gambians have to pay high price for meat and mutton for the Cows and Sheep from which they are obtained are smuggled out of Senegal, Mali and Mauritania.

Other reason advanced is what they call high cost of transportation, high cost of feeding the animals on the way to The Gambia and the instability of the rate of exchange of the Gambian Dalasi.

If these arguments are correct why do we butchers and animal dealers go outside this country to buy animals they can get from local sources? We are surprised when we are told the population of the cows in The Gambia is around 300,000 or more. Why can’t we resort to our own cows to feed ourselves? Why are we not feeding on our own animals? Is there anything wrong with them? No, nothing is wrong with them it is we the public, the butchers, the animal dealers, the livestock association and the government planners who have failed to plan for the animals of The Gambia.

What purpose are the cattle of The Gambia serving the people?

We the people of this country give cattle population space for living, tracks for daily rounds for grazing and water to drink, prevention and curing medicines and we free them from paying head tax as far as it is known. And what is known we are keeping all this animals in good health for cattle re-sellers who come and steal them anytime they like, indicating that even the animal owners themselves don’t even benefit much. And then who is benefiting from this 300,000 cattle heads? Certainly not the Gambian people.

What is visible and noted to our dismay there is no visible plan from livestock department, government planners, the livestock association and above all there is an Animal Research Center in this country and yet we are not fertilizing and breeding cows at a rate that will make them produce what can tip the scale in favor of the promotion and the sale in commercial quantity of local cows in our market and not outside and save us the trouble of depending cows from outside The Gambia. All we hear is RESEARCH! RESEARCH! RESEARCH!  Till doomsday.

I am recoding a few items I feel are the pillars that can sustain the initiation, the breeding, the nurturing, the promotion, the sustenance and the progress of the economy of this country

1. The livestock department and whosoever can be of help should produce more local cows for local consumption.

2. There should be a learning center all over the country for people literate or illiterate to undergo a short make-shift low level course in animal husbandry. Young people male as well as female most be induced and must be attractive to be into the job of animal breeding.

3. Cow owners must be awarded good prices to make them sell their animals. They must be shown alternative ways where they can invest their money for future security. The big cattle kraal being presently managed by the {Jarika} cattle owners should be broken into small groups and each put under the management of a trained animal attendant.

It is noted the majority of people in this country are either in business that are not viable but the tied themselves to the business and not able to look elsewhere for an alternative source of living or seeking office job even if that is of a messenger preferable, however low the income.

All this is a waste and under-utilization of man power and not contributing much to the economic. They are only consumers.

The young people trained as animal attendants must each be given about a dozen animal heads and a piece of land enclosed with barbwire or any other thing, and water and fodder be provided and the attendant properly induced.

We the Gambian people must be re-oriented and made to rely on our brains and our hands and not talk! talk! talk! All the time.

Browsing through our daily newspapers, what we often read is the daily announcements of the new associations.

These associations may be part of the several groups of civil society, such as the formation of human rights association, association for empowering youths, women and children and all other highfalutin names and titles and no announcement about the formation of any association of any group by young people for the plowing of land, breeding cattle, catching fish.

These are the main areas where God has put wealth for our survival and progress. So we Gambians must speak the truth to one another and change our attitude and use our hands and our brains for the advancement of this country.

Author: Alhagi Ba Tarawale
Tel: No 7278341,
Researcher/Journalist
Literacy house, Latrikunda Yiringanyaa