Let’s exploit our arable land!

May 29, 2020, 11:10 AM

Agriculture plays a lead role in reducing poverty in any country and The Gambia is not an exception.

Accounting for 30 percent of the Gambia’s GDP, it is the second largest sector in the economy, employing about 44 percent of the country’s active work force.

With a population of approximately 2 million people, this sector if wisely utilized could end importation of rice and other food commodities.

Well, there is high risk of hunger pandemic as coronavirus set to double acute hunger by end of 2020, according to new figures from WFP. This latest figures indicate additional 130 million lives and livelihoods will be at risk.

Last Wednesday at a press confab held at McCarthy Square, the vice president, Dr. Isatou Touray sounded the alarm that with the covid-19 pandemic blowing the ambers of despair, surging unemployment and joblessness, thousands of families in the country could be exposed to threats of poverty and hunger.

These news is not only petrifying but disturbing looking at the poverty level in the country.

We all know that good nutritional security is the foundations of a decent life and without it, may have a dire consequence on lives and livelihoods.

It is high time government look inroads as a way to finding to find long-term solutions to our food insecurity. The Gambia is blessed with abundant arable land that supports agricultural development. We just need to revamp and tapped our existing potentials in the area of irrigation to boost the livelihoods of not only farmers but even vulnerable communities, who are more susceptible to poverty and food insecurity.

In the past, most rural communities depend wholly on produce derived from local rice fields. Those are glorious days when Jahally and Pacharr rice fields were active in large scale agriculture production both dry and wet seasons.

Government needs to increase its funding to develop sustainable food systems that can withstand shocks such as an economic crisis or disease pandemic that cause economic paralysis.

As vice president stated, human cost of food crisis in times of emergencies could be enormous, and if the current situation is left unchecked, it could further deepen the poverty and food insecurity situation of the country.

We must therefore transform and embrace sound agricultural policies such as innovative marketing and distribution.

This, many experts believe is one of surest means of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and fulfilling our development aspiration as a sovereign state.