Jul 16, 2008, 9:52 AM
President Jammeh told the people of Foni that by 2009 he would stop providing assistance to them if they failed to heed his call to take up agriculture.
He made this statement on Tuesday at a meeting in Ndemban, Foni Berefet. "You cannot be helping people until you yourself become poor. By 2009, I will stop helping from Bullock to Kalagi," he stated.
The Gambian leader cited the current absence of magnificent non-public infrastructure in the Fonis as a glaring indication of searing poverty, a situation he blamed on the failure of the people of the area to "go back to the land" to earn a living. "How many storey buildings can you find in the Fonis?" he asked.
He went on further to recall his school days, saying that despite living in the urban areas, he used to return to the Fonis to harvest baobab and palm tree fruits to sell for his own welfare.
According to President Jammeh, the youths in Foni are not doing that now, leaving all in the hands of non-Gambians who he said come to harvest their fruits and sell it back to them again. He stressed the importance of food self-sufficiency, saying: "People are saying that I am a doctor and I can cure any sort of sickness but when it comes to hunger, I cannot do anything about it."
The President used the occasion to call on the youths of Foni, whom he said abandoned the Fonis for fear of witchcraft, to return home, assuring them that there is no longer anything to fear.
Mr. Jammeh revealed that his government would be coming up with a $12m (Twelve million dollars) project to adequately build the capacities of farmers in Foni.
The project, he went on, would provide bore holes and other relevant equipment for them to engage in actual farming for a decent living. "You cannot go on begging all the time for a living," he said.
From Ndemban, President Jammeh and entourage proceeded to Sibanor in Foni Bintang where he visited the CCF water pyramid.
Impressed by the project, he vowed to establish seven of such projects each year across the country with the ultimate objective of providing clean and potable water to the populace.
Meanwhile, President Jammeh will today continue his tour with a visit to the Holland Foundation-sponsored clinic in Kololi from where he will proceed to the buffer zone in Tallinding for a victory celebration.
The Gambian leader will tomorrow end his 'Dialogue with the People tour' with a mass victory celebration at the 22nd July Square in