Feb 28, 2012, 1:43 PM
Hon Sidia Jatta, National Assembly Member for Wuli West Constituency, has lamented that the request by the executive to have the repeal of the National Agricultural Development Agency (NADA) Act, 2006 done is an indication that members of the National Assembly are wanting in exercising their oversight functions.
The repeal of the Act on Thursday 20th November, which was unanimously welcomed by the deputies as timely and long over due, came barely two years after it was enacted, a move that has led to the drastic reduction of the number of personnel required to reach out to farmers.
"I am sorry if what am going to say offends anybody but I will not regret saying what I am going to say. Madam Speaker, the repeal of this particular Act seems to me to indicate the fact that we are wanting in exercising our oversight functions; that is precisely what it is saying.
"It is saying at the same time that the executive does its job and at the same time they also try to do our job because it is they who have found it necessary to repeal this Act. But when the bill came here for the first time, we asked several questions about the necessity of NADA and the harm it was doing to the farmers as well as to the agriculture extension workers," he said.
He added, "I am very sorry but I have to say these things. We must stop this, we must do our work because the other time too, a certain loan agreement was brought here and this side of the house (Opposition) said that it did not seem to be a true loan document. We were ridiculed. After it was passed here, we ratified it but few months later, it was brought back for us to change it again."
In moving the motion before deputies, Mr Ousman Jammeh, Secretary of State for Energy, who is currently overseeing the State Department for Agriculture said the establishment of NADA has resulted in the drastic reduction of the number of personnel required to reach out to farmers.
This, he added, has adversely affected the extension service delivery system.
In his view, the newly restructured DoSA will allow those adversely affected by the establishment of NADA in terms of job loss to be eventually re-integrated into the system.
"The integration of the former technical units into technical departments has over-shadowed and weakened the performance of their core functions. Furthermore, the creation of NADA is at variance with the private sector-led growth and development policies and strategies," Secy Jammeh told deputies.
He added that the new structure would considerably enhance the generation, mobilisation, effective and efficient utilisation of human, financial and material resources for gradual expansion and empowerment of farmers for improved delivery of extension services.
According to the Wuli West parliamentarian, their fundamental responsibility here as elected representatives of the people is to be their eyes and their minds. "We must exercise that functions; otherwise we will not be serving the interest of the people of this country. NADA was killed from the very moment of its inception; the skilled personnel, which were required to make it move were laid off and they end up saying it never took off.
"Yes it never took of but money was spent in paying people who were receiving fantastic sums of money for services that were not rendered at all," he said.
Hon. Jatta also added that NADA was killed at the very inception, laying off skilled personnel who were required. "How can you bring a drastic change or transformation of agriculture by laying off people who are necessary to make it move. This has brought only damage to the agriculture sector. We must stop what we are doing; we must do things as it is required of us", he queried.
For Hon Jatta, they are here to review what the executive brings to them; things that they propose in their thinking would serve the supreme interest of this country. "Our role is to examine that, scrutinise it and if it is so, we support it but if not so we say change this and that to make it useful for this country".
He also expressed hope that the new system that is being proposed will bring back to place something fundamental that will make the agricultural system move forward. This, he went on, is serious extension service work, which will take into consideration the fact that farmers are not empty bags to be filled with knowledge, but that they are also people from whom we can also learn.
However, these comments by Hon. Sidia Jatta do not make any sense in the minds of Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, Majority leader and member for Serrekunda East Constituency, who said that the enactment of the NADA Act in 2006 was done out of goodwill for the interest of Gambians.
According to Hon. Tombong Jatta, when the house was enacting the NADA Act two years ago, it does so with the hope that it will enhance the development of agriculture.
He however maintained that the Assembly is very much concerned with the interest of Gambians and expressed hope that the new system will succeed.
"We as elected representatives of the people are very much aware and concerned with the interest of all Gambians. We enacted the bill out of justice and we did it out of goodwill for the Gambian people", he said while contributing to the motion.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly on the same day enacted the Gambia Livestock Marketing Agency Bill, 2008. The bill among others seeks to address the existing gaps regarding the non-existence of an appropriate public institution that is responsible for supporting livestock owners and other actors in the sub-sector from subsistence based to a dynamic, commercially and market oriented one.