The answer: Food self-sufficiency - President Jammeh tells Gambians
Thursday, May 08, 2008
President Jammeh has emphasised the importance of food self-sufficiency in the face of global food crisis and the imminent surge in the price of rice, the staple food of the country.
The president made this statement at the Farafenni Primary School ground, North Bank Region, where party supporters had gathered to celebrate victories in the presidential, National Assembly and local government elections; a party that was punctuated with jollity. The president presided over the event, alongside members of his entourage in the ongoing 'Dialogue with the People Tour'.
But, to the President, the merry-making meant more than a victory celebration. To him, it was a celebration of the "unprecedented successes" and the fulfillment of the promises many had disputed in the beginning as false. He cited the Kerewan-Laminkoto Road Project, the AFPRC General Hospital and the Rural Electrification Project as part of the fulfilled promises.
The president expressed his intention to transform Farafenni into a city. However, he noted that this would need the support of everybody to achieve that.
Reiterating his back to the land call, the president called for attitudinal change among Gambians in order to achieve food self-sufficiency. Further buttressing on this clarion call, the president talked about the current global food crises and the increasing cost of rice.
He observed that "if we had gone back to the land over the years and did not depend on imported food, the rice issue would not have been what it is today. All this major diseases are due to what we eat and we don't know where they come from. Let's eat what we produce," he emphasised, while thanking the people of the area for massively voting for the APRC in the elections.
The president told the gathering that he would never make false promises after swearing to Allah, the Almighty. "I am not here to disappoint you. I will never disappoint The Gambia", the president told cheering supporters.
According to President Jammeh, his good intentions can be attested to by his sponsorship of Gambian students and pilgrims, as well as the provision of medical and educational services to all Gambians. He then saluted Gambian women for their contribution and urged the men folk to emulate them.
For his part, Yankuba Touray, the secretary of state for Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters, saluted supporters for voting for APRC party in the last elections and acknowledged the good work of the former chief, Mr Sambujang Jagne, in the party. SoS Touray hinted supporters about plans to build a regional office to be headed by Mr Jagne.
Commenting on the major developments experienced under the second republic, Mr Touray said the new 500 tractors for farmers were not for free, since the previous consignment were mismanaged.
On his fisheries sector, the eloquent secretary of state articulated that all vessels on The Gambia's territorial waters would be licensed to regularise fishing activities and ensure that more Gambians got engaged in the sector.
Other speakers at the ceremony included Saikou Foday Jammeh, the chief of Upper Baddibu, Aja Isatou Jallow, a women mobiliser and Mustapha Dibba, a youth leader.Projects
President Jammeh also visited several major agricultural and health development projects in North Bank Region, as part of the itinerary of the tour.
The projects visited were the Chamen Agricultural Training Centre in Chamen, the Farafenni Community Based Doctors Centre, and the Ngayen Sanjal major health centre.
At the Chamen Agricultural Training Center, President Jammeh was led on a tour of the facility by senior officials and was briefed on the three components of the projec - animal husbandry, vegetable production and crop production.
According to the officials, the centre was created to train youths on animal husbandry and poultry production in order to enable them engage in gainful-employment.
Mamodou M Susso, a livestock assistant, told the president that trainees in animal husbandry, were taught on the treatment, feeding, watering, housing, equipment, disease prevention and detection. Mr Suso highlighted the invaluable support they had received from the FAO in reviving the center last year.
At the horticulture garden, the Gambian leader was escorted to the fields and was informed that over 1,186 trainees had undergone a training in the center over the past years. The president also visited the poultry yard where 42 layer chickens were being reared.
In his reaction, President Jammeh advised the officials on the planting of fruit trees. He urged people to desist from unending workshops and to concentrate on implementation and field practicals. He also urged NARI to keep the original Gambian vegetable varieties, saying "I do not believe in Western theories about agriculture. Let us preserve our indigenous varieties. Unless we change our concepts in agriculture, it will be difficult to eradicate poverty".
President Jammeh also urged poultry production experts to include Gambian youth in the production exercise.
At the Farafenni Community Based Doctors Center, the Gambian leader was informed that the training of the present batch of 12 people had started in March this year.
Dr Albaro Garcia Francika, a lecturer and the head of the Cuban Team, said the training would last for six years and that the present batch of students are pre-medical doctors pursuing courses in biology and chemistry.
Dr Malick Njie, the secretary of state for Health and Social Welfare, described the project as laudable, noting that with such community doctor training initiative, The Gambia would be sure to have enough qualified doctors in the next five years. He said the programmes were the same with what could be found at the School of Medicine in Banjul.
At the Ngayen Sanjal Major Health Center, President Jammeh visited all the wards, offices, and stores. He expressed disappointment with the state of the health centre, saying its condition was unacceptable.
He complained of the negligence in the upkeep of the structures and called on the relevant authorities to act immediately.
Author: by Alhagie Jobe on tour