Apr 29, 2009, 10:15 AM
In our continuing efforts to support the country’s food self-sufficiency drive, we focus our attention on the youth’s participation in agriculture.
We wish to take this opportunity to reiterate the call of the President for people, especially youths, to go back to the land.
We firmly believe that if the country is to attain food self-sufficiency, the youth of the country must go back to the land.
One may ask why the emphasis is on the youths.
Well, simply because youths are strong, energetic and able to work hard on farms for better productivity.
It is sad to note that one reason why the country’s agricultural production has reduced drastically, in the past few years, is because of not only poor rains, but also the fact that most of the able-bodied men and women have turned their backs on farming.
They prefer staying in the urban areas or to travel to Europe through illegal migration, than going back to the land.
To most of them, farming is a hopeless vocation, forgetting that farming is a source of food and wealth.
We, therefore, implore all the young people of this country to take farming seriously, and call on youth groups to also partake in agriculture, considering that food prices have, in recent times, increased beyond the reach of the common man.
It is, therefore, imperative that we invest heavily in agriculture, and thus give it the required attention.
Every now and then, concerns are being raised about the escalating prices of essential commodities.
As we prepare for yet another rainy season, farmers need to diversify into more productive areas, such as commercial farming.
We must all stand on our feet, especially the youth and make sure that the agricultural sector in The Gambia receives the needed boost.
While there is a need to diversify into macro production or commercial farming, if agriculture is to attain the desired results, appropriate and timely measures must be taken to address the present setbacks.
To this end, agricultural inputs should be made available on a timely basis, as well as prices be remunerative enough to induce increased production.
Good agricultural production not only feeds families, but also increases exports and the earning capacities of the consumers.
The government should also try to provide timely soft loans, farming implements and seed nuts to the farmers, especially to organised youth groups.
The Ministry of Agriculture has a lot to do in order to bring back agriculture to its feet.
This also calls for adjustment from all sides, both the government and the private sector, as well as able-bodied men and women.
The Ministry of Agriculture must look at ways and means of transforming the agricultural sector into a more vibrant area, since our livelihood depends on it.
Businesspeople must also be ready to invest in agriculture, especially crop farming, livestock and poultry production, so as to boost farming in the country.
This is the reality in many countries, and Gambian businesses should also consider investing heavily in the field.
The National Youth Council and the Ministry of Youth and Sports should be commended for setting up district farms last year.
We encourage the ministry to maintain the momentum for the benefit of our unemployed youth.