Sep 15, 2010, 12:01 PM
It is with great delight that we welcome the governments initiative in leasing a plot of land measuring 265 hectares to the Gambia Investment Promotion and Free Zone Agency (GIPFZA) for investment opportunities.
Of the total number of 265 hectares situated between Pirang and Kuloro, 200 has been allocated to makfood company, a joint venture between M.A Kharafi and Farm fruits of the Netherlands to embark on agricultural projects specifically in onion and Irish potato cultivation.
This is an example of forward planning and shows there is some attempt at least to tackle the issue of food self sufficiency. Many in the country are desperately worried about the rising cost of rice so a move towards potato cultivation is the way forward. Unlike rice, potatoes have in the past been described as natures perfect food. It is possible for a person to survive on potatoes alone as they provide all the vitamins and minerals needed for a human being to survive. While this wonder food will no doubt prove to be an answer to many of our food problems, if the current plan is followed and extended in time, we must be careful not to allow the population to become overly dependant on one food source. This has happened with rice and look at the situation we now find ourselves in.
Along with land allocation of the kind mentioned above we must be careful to ensure that farmers are protected against pests. The biggest crop in the world can be decimated if it is not properly protected against pests. We read of the plight of women farmers in Sanyang who have suffered a major loss of onion output simply because they were not properly protected against pests. An holistic approach is what will save our people. This has been shown with this latest project. Along with producing food it is expected that the project will create employment opportunities for the youths within the communities of Pirang and Kuloro. This is certainly a much-needed boost to the area and one that should be welcomed by all. What is imperative now is that the government doesn't lose focus. This type of initiative must be continued all over the country and scientific knowledge must be put to good use to see what crops will best benefit the people in any given area. This is a good start but it is still only the starting point on the long hard road to self-sufficiency.
"Food is an important part of a balanced diet."
- Fran Lebowitz