#Article (Archive)

The Handwriting on the Wall

Nov 11, 2008, 4:06 AM

According to FOROYAA newspaper, Friday edition,rotten potatoes are now being dumped at the Kotu and Bakoteh dumpsites. With this incidence and the recent rise in bread prices, we are beginning to feel the deepening food crisis right in our own backyard. It all sounded like a fairy tale at first when news broke that the world was in the throes of a food crisis. The initial reaction was to wish it away, thinking that it was a problem affecting the other parts of the world, not us. But the realities are now staring us right in the face.

The price of rice has gone beyond the reach of the average Gambian, just as the price of tapalapa (our own local bread) is steadily soaring. Our fear is that before long, even tapalapa will disappear from the dining table. It is only then that we will realise the enormity of the problem at hand.

Even as it is, the situation is bad enough. Reading between the lines, it is clear from the rotten potatoes story that people are likely to scavenge dumpsites for food, if the need arises. As much as we hate to see this happen, it is still a possibility. When people are pushed to the wall, they tend to do things they never imagine they would do in a million years. The indications are that people are hungry and could be tempted to do anything just to keep the wolf from the door.

We must never allow this to happen. Of course, the National Environment Agency (NEA) should mount a public awareness campaign on the danger of scavenging food in dumpsites. That is step one. Step two is to step up the food production drive in the country. Every community should be made to cultivate their own farms whose produce should be sold to the community at a reduced price.

It is also important at this stage for individuals to invest heavily in farming. People should stop looking down on farming as an activity meant for barely educated people. If enough people invest in farming in this country, we can deal with the prevailing food crisis in our own terms.

Besides, we should learn to do away with some of our wasteful values that do not foster progress. It is now time for every one of us to live prudently and cut down on partying and the like.We cannot be telling the world that we are poor, yet we live ostentatiously at the same time. We have to watch the way we live.

"I'm living so far beyond my income that we might almost be said to be living apart."