Jul 24, 2008, 4:52 AM
The National Assembly Member for Janjanbureh Hon. Foday Jibani Manka has said that despite massive destruction to rice fields by hippos in Janjanbureh, they are "essential to for eco-tourism."
Hon. Manka made this remark during a countrywide tour by the Minister of Forestry and Environment, who visited Janjanbureh rice field in a bid to see for himself and his delegation the massive destruction caused by hippos.
According to Hon. Manka, their intention is not to kill the hippos but noted that their activities are discouraging, and as a result they seek assistance from the government.
For his part, the Chief of Janjanbureh, Bakary Jam Jawo, who also expressed great concern and shock, said the destruction of rice by the hippos is a major concern not only to his area, but the entire region.
Chief Jawo used the occasion to appeal to the government for their intervention in addressing the issue.
Bundoi Jawneh, Secretary to the Janjanbureh rice field gave an overview about the establishment of the Moruba lake rice field, which he noted, was established 3 years ago.
According to him, the importance of rice cannot be over-emphasised, as rice fields are immensely contributing to the livelihood of people.
In response to some of the concerns raised by the Director of Parks and Wildlife, Alhaji Manjang expressed dismay about the damage caused by the hippos. As he put it, "farmers have the right to live as they are part of the eco-tourism."
Manjang said one of government priorities is to avoid anything that would jeopardise farming.
"The degradation of our environment is due to increased of population and farming activities. Therefore, all stakeholders are urged to put hand on desk to address these challenges," he stated.
Hon. Minister Jatta Sillah, in his part, thanked the people of Janjanbureh for their commitment.
According to him, destruction of their rice field is a major concern to the President.