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Our Future is in Our Own Hands

Jun 11, 2008, 4:57 AM

In today's edition we have reprinted a special feature by the renowned writer, George Monbiot, in which he argues the very strong case for the world to turn to small farmers in order to feed itself. No doubt the piece will bring great hope to many people in The Gambia as it shows that our future really is in our own hands. Monbiot says there is an inverse relationship between the size of farms and the amount of crops they produce per hectare. The smaller they are, the greater the yield. He tells us that in some cases, the difference is enormous. He cites a recent study of farming in Turkey which found that farms of less than one hectare are twenty times as productive as farms of over ten hectares. The most plausible explanation is that small farmers use more labour per hectare than big farmers. Their workforce largely consists of members of their own families, which means that labour costs are lower than on large farms (they don't have to spend money recruiting or supervising workers), while the quality of the work is higher. With more labour, farmers can cultivate their land more intensively: they spend more time terracing and building irrigation systems; they sow again immediately after the harvest; they might grow several different crops in the same field.

This shows very clearly that in The Gambia we are in an excellent position not only to feed ourselves but to become a breadbasket in our sub region. Everyone should keep this in mind as the rainy season progresses. We are blessed in this nation with fertile land and we must take full advantage of it. We have plenty of able-bodied people to tend this land so we must all play our part. Our future is in our own hands and we must make the very best of it.

"Work is the grand cure of all the maladies and miseries that ever beset mankind."

Thomas Carlyle

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