Jun 13, 2008, 7:55 AM
If drought shows its stern dry face, then hunger and starvation invariably become the order of the day. We pray this year for good rains and a rich harvest.
However if there are no seeds, if there is no fertilizer to enrich the soil, no amount of rain can bring us a bountiful harvest. This is why we are all optimistic and encouraged by His Excellency's statement that essential inputs will be provided on a timely basis.
Coming to agricultural production, it is not long back when agriculture used to be nicknamed in Gambian macro economic analysis as the "back bone of the economy".
It was for
good reason. Good agricultural production not only fed families but also fueled
export and concomitant export earnings necessary for the importation of basic
commodities. The annual contribution of agriculture to
Today agricultural production is declining even if gradually, and it is the combined sector of trade, tourism and natural resources that are increasingly making up for the statistical shortfall.
The reason for the gradual decline of agriculture as a foreign exchange earner and as a major contributor to the economy lies primarily in the comparatively low level of productively in that sector. What farmers used to enjoy have now been lost. Before, farmers used to have access to qualitative seed varieties that were made readily available and distributed in a timely manner, months before the planting season. Crops could then be cultivated early enough to allow for optimal maturity before the end of the rains. Today the availability of good seeds is not guaranteed. When available they would be late for the rains.
Arrangements for the procurement of seeds are some times made late even though everyone knows that the start-up time for planting in The Gambia is always the month of May.
Farmers end up lacking fertilizer to enrich effete soils.The old methods of hand-hoe still dominate the farming scene. This may mean that not all arable areas are cultivated: another factor responsible for low production. With the use of mechanized farming methods, agricultural production would have appreciated today not declined.
agriculture is to attain the desired high levels, appropriate and timely
measures need to be taken to address the persistent setbacks. Agricultural
inputs need to be made available on a timely basis. Prices should be
remunerative enough to induce production, which means, partly, that
Farming should be widely mechanized even if the private sector has to establish a machinery rental scheme.
Credit-buying, in particular, should now seriously be made a thing of the past.
In the interest of agricultural
production and economic growth as envisaged in Vision 2020, and exemplified in
the President's call for 'Back to the Land', it is expected that appropriate
allocation has been made in this year's budget. It is expected that the
necessary agricultural services will be provided and put into operation for the
realization of a successful season. We cannot produce potatoes at the level of
the National Assembly alone.
the table is man's best friend"