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Timely intervention but…

Apr 2, 2012, 12:27 PM

The move by the UN country team in The Gambia to provide immediate humanitarian support and recovery assistance to over 300,000 vulnerable members of the country’s population in the most affected 19 districts is indeed timely.

According to the UN system, the response begins in April 2012 and will cover the length of the lean season, from March to September 2012.

The move could not have come at a better time than now, considering the appeal by the Gambia government for food aid, after it said that 70 percent of crops in the country failed during the past farming season.

Undoubtedly, agriculture is the backbone of an economy; all else are just superstructures. We have argued on these pages over the years that the base for industrial and technological progress is agriculture.

Despite the genuine response from the UN system, it is high time that people, especially Gambians, make investment in agriculture a priority, because it is our belief that a nation which cannot feed her citizens is doomed.

How can a hungry emaciated citizenry be roused to national duty?

While reports about the 2011-2012 farming season failure generated lots of debate in many corners, it is our view that The Gambia as a country should do all it takes to find a lasting solution for good, as this could aggravate poverty in the country.

Lately, the prices of many commodities have surged exponentially to a point where it threatens to shoot household budgets over the roof.

The soaring food and energy prices now pose a threat to the fledgling impetus in the recovery of the world economy.

Talking about the income of the pensioner population in this country, it is very sad, but the reality is that it’s next to nothing. The pensioner population will be much more affected by what is happening now.

As we have said on these pages not long ago, to cope with this threatening situation, The Gambia has to increase domestic food production and substitute local foodstuffs for the increasingly costly imported items.

Farmers have to try to expand production, because the jump in the cost of imported food will increase the demand for local food.

Increased production could save foreign exchange, generate employment and improve rural development.

We hope that the agricultural community, with the help of the government, will rise to the challenge.

“The past may be past, the present we grapple with, but the future we can attempt to change.”