Dec 18, 2009, 10:24 PM
It is excellent to see that President Jammeh and his government are taking the world food crisis seriously. Just recently the Majority Leader of the National Assembly, Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, donated a water-pumping machine to the women of Alkali Kunda in the North Bank Region to help them answer to the President's back-to-the-land call. The women of Alkali Kunda have a vegetable garden just outside the village and now their work will be a lot easier because they will not have to carry the water to the garden like women all over the rest of the country.
Here in The Gambia we are blessed with fertile land, almost year round sunlight and plentiful water. If we can combine all of these things, we can easily answer the President's call, feed ourselves and even export food to other countries.
At the moment if you go to the market and ask where the cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, potatoes and even onions are from the most likely answer would be Senegal. How can we import these vegetables that are easily grown here? The Senegalese are less fortunate than us as a comparatively great part of their land is turning into desert. When the food crisis starts to bite them, they will eat the food themselves and stop exporting to us. What will we do then? We cannot rely on others.
The way this disaster is headed, we should be the ones exporting. This is Africa's opportunity. When the food starts to run out and the prices get too high in Europe, they will be forced to get rid of the extortionate tariffs they put on imports from us. Then we will be able to sell food to them at reasonable prices for everyone involved.
Our opportunity is coming soon . . . Last year the amount of food aid given worldwide was 40% of that which was given in 1999. The prices are too high now and there isn't enough to be giving it away. This is a clear warning that those who used to give food aid will soon need it.
Seeds are not expensive and they will pay for themselves a hundred times over as long as you are well organised. So go out and start growing. Even if you just grow a few vegetables, have a fruit tree or keep some animals in your compound, that is the first step in helping The Gambia gain rather than lose out because of this worldwide food crisis.
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