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Sidia Jatta Objects to "Back to the Land" Call

Jun 26, 2008, 5:41 AM | Article By: By Baboucarr Senghore & Abba Gibba

Says there is No Incentive, No Encouragement

The current catch-phrase exhorting all and sundry to take up farming of some sort, ascribed to the Gambian President, holds no water with Hon. Sidia Jatta, National Assembly Member for Wuli West constituency, who has expressed his belief that though the idea in itself is sound, the lack of encouragement and incentives has made it virtually impossible for people to heed the call.

Contributing to the motion on the adjournment debate at the National Assembly on Tuesday, Hon. Jatta noted that unless the government gave the people the incentive and made them understand that once they produce, they will have value for their produce, going back to the land, as it is often called, is "meaningless."

According to the Wuli West parliamentarian, Gambian youths are now yearning day and night to go to Europe in search of greener pastures not because they do not want to go back to the land or not because they hate The Gambia but they are doing so because they know that however much they make on those lands, they cannot help solve the problems of their families. "People have problems in marketing their produce, which is also discouraging them from cultivating. There is no incentive and there is no encouragement.

"We have seen people who have gone out of this country and within a year, they have sent thousands and thousands to their families, which has now changed the whole situation of the family," he added.

In Hon. Jatta's view, it is not that people are reluctant to till the land but the land is giving nothing and they have to feed their families who are living in abject poverty.

"They don't have the means in this country to help their parents and families get out of poverty because there is no incentive for them to do that and what they do at the end is to risk their lives because they know once they get out there, they can make something and help their families," he asserted.

For Hon. Jatta, the average Gambian has no problem with practising agriculture but they know that there are fundamental and critical problems confronting them and have no means of overcoming those problems.

"No body wants to die in poverty, no body wants to see his family die in poverty and if somebody from a particular family in France or any place in Europe is helping his family, I think others will like to be like him and will therefore move," he pointed.

The Wuli West parliamentarian went further to explain that unless some of these problems are solved, the call for people to go back to the land will be sung from rooftops and nothing will be done.

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