Says $80-100 million to be invested in agriculture
The Gambian President His Excellency Yahya Jammeh has said that the negative attitude of Gambian men (both young and middle aged) towards agriculture would be the only obstacle to achieving the noble objectives set out in the sector.
President Jammeh, who was speaking at the opening of the 2011 first Legislative Session of the National Assembly in Banjul on Friday March 25, 2011, added that this has led to the sector being dominated by women in recent years.
The main thrust of my government in this all important sector is the attainment of not only food self sufficiency but becoming a major player in the agriculture export market, he said.
He admitted that the agriculture sector has the greatest potential to provide employment for hundreds of thousands of people across all walks of life in the Gambia. He said his government is bent on eradicating involuntary poverty for which agriculture is the key towards achieving this goal.
He also noted that the Gambia Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and in collaboration with the Taiwanese Agriculture Mission is putting under rice cultivation about 400, 000 hectares over a period of five years from 2009.
“The objective is that even with an output of one tonne of rice per hectare, once the entire 400, 000 hectares are put under rice cultivation, we will produce more than what we consume and can go into the export market,” he explained.
“With the expected investment of about 80-100 million dollars into this sector in the very near feature by a Gulf State Company, in addition to the recently launched programmes to be funded by the World Bank Group, The Gambia, Allah willing will soon realise her dream of becoming the bread basket of Africa.”
He revealed that the government intends to diversify the sector as much as possible to make it more appealing to all manners of people from the hard working to the “not so hard working”. He also noted that the main obstacle in livestock and poultry farming has been the high cost of animal and poultry feed which has to be imported. This has rendered these sectors of agriculture activity untenable as it’s unprofitable to most farmers who have ventured into it.
However, he said in order to solve this problem, the government has gone into a joint venture with a Middle Eastern (Gulf State) Company to build an animal feed plant which is near completion and Inshallah will be operational before to end of 2011.
He further revealed that a Flour Mill will soon be established to complement this effort. It is hoped that once these two plants become operational before the end of the year, Gambian livestock farmers would be given a new life. “Since these sectors are less labour intensive, we hope to attract both hardworking and not so hardworking young and middle aged men,” he said.
“For my government, it is an all out war on hunger and poverty and we need the full participation of every able-bodied person, Gambians and non-Gambians alike in this fight.”
President Jammeh also said his government has launched the Gambia National Agriculture Investment Programme (GNAIP 2011-2015). It has the objective of harnessing growth in the agriculture and natural resources sectors to increase food security within the framework of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
The programme is also aimed at improving productivity through commercialization and private sector participation which would increase the contribution of the agriculture and natural resources sectors to the national economy.
According to the president, the National Budget will be the main source of financing the GNAIP, though plans are ongoing to involve non-state actors, especially local commercial banks. He also said that the government hopes to achieve the MDG and PRSP Goals of attaining food self-sufficiency and eradicating hunger, with these interventions. Source - The Voice