The agricultural sector, the backbone for any meaningful national development, has never lagged behind in the Revolution’s efforts to alleviate poverty and create the requite environment towards achieving the national food sufficiency objective within prescribed time frames.
This was a major preoccupation of the regime from the onset because of the abominably poor performance records inherited from the previous PPP administration. The latter’s inertia and lack of vision and commitment led instead to the creation of several white elephant projects such as the notorious Jahally Pacharr Project saga and several others that were initiated but never actualized till completion or continued for the sake of posterity. However, with the advent of the July 22ndRevolution,these hurdles were gradually surmounted at a prime moment thanks to the personal involvement of His Excellency the Leader himself in this noble endeavour.Thus,the leadership by example strategy came to the forefront thereby enabling the citizenry to gradually and effectively change their attitude and get actively involved in the green revolution as promulgated by the July 22ndRevolution.It was accordingly through this mechanism that the Revolution has remained relentless as ever towards achieving its noble objectives through the initial all-inclusive Vision 2020 Inc. and other related pronouncements in ensuing years.
As already alluded to, the new slogan,“Back to the Land”was the first clarion call made by His Excellency the President and Head of State of the Republic at a mass political rally as early as 1998 in Kafuta,West Coast Region.The militants, particularly the youth, were then challenged to embrace this new slogan in replacement of the earlier ”Power to the People” slogan which essentially has already been won as the Revolution has effectively entrusted the requisite power to the people. This pronouncement was spontaneous and highly acclaimed throughout the country with the Youth Action Group of the July 22ndMovement paving the way to answer to this noble executive call.A large number of dedicated and highly motivated militants were mobilised from Kombo Central and Kombo North respectively in the West Coast Region and deployed on a multihectare farm in Kombo Kerewan.They were provided with the necessary inputs and implements thereby enabling them to grow a large variety of horticultural products which were later successfully harvested and marketed.These committed militants were pleasantly surprised when His Excellency the Leader himself paid them an unannounced and unexpected private visit on the farm as a show of solidarity with them and equally to boost their moral in the true spirit of the July 22ndRevolution.
The Revolution has always manifested its unalloyed and unwavering support to the agricultural sector through various intervention strategies.In order to show its commitment and sincerity towards this noble endeavour at this critical stage, the farming communities were provided with the necessary incentives and inputs in the form of seeds,fertilisers to cite a few. Additionally and most plausible of all,fifty (50) brand new tractors and their accompanying accessories,an innumerable number of power tillers and other agricultural implements were equally distributed nationwide to reduce the burden of responsibility in this highly labour intensive enterprise.An additional number of seven (7) tractors plus a large assortment of agricultural machinery were equally made available to the then seven Divisional Executive Committees of the July 22ndMovement.Consequently, it was as a result of these timely interventions at this infancy stage, that the course of the green revolution was clearly charted in order to facilitate and ultimately achieve the ensuing overall goals and objectives of the Revolution as enshrined in the major agricultural blueprints.It is indeed a truism as well as it is crystal clear that the agricultural sector has made tremendous strides in terms of quality,production and productivity since the birth of the Second Republic. Now that the nation is endowed with well formulated and documented blueprints on the way forward for agricultural developmentcoupled with the direct and personal engagement of the Master farmer himself,His Excellency the President and Head of State of the Republic,this country is slowly,but surely on the threshold of becoming a model for regional and continental emulation.The genuine commitment and sincerity of His Excellency the Leader of the Revolution, are in all respects the raison d’etre for the numerous prestigious international accolades,awards and prizes that are being continuously awarded to him by reputable bodies including the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and other Organs of the United Nations system.
Aside from this impressive track record in the agricultural sector, the July 22nd Revolution has never faltered or lost sight of putting in place cohesive and holistic programmes relating to infrastructural development,women/youth and child empowerment,tourism/culture promotion and development to cite other areas on the development agenda.The infrastructure sector had already received tremendous boost at an early phase of the Revolution through the massive construction of new highways,bridges,state of the art edifices such as Arch 22 in Banjul and the Banjul International Airport Terminal Building to name,but a few. The sector also included the construction of the Sulayman Junkung Jammeh Bridge in the Central River Region and a host of other minor ones spread on both banks of the country.
Incidentally, the northern flank of the country covering the entire North Bank Region and parts of Central and Upper River Regions,became the greatest beneficiaries of this unprece- dented infrastructural development.The area had been totally neglected over the years and virtually destined to decay and eventually disintegrate.This pathetic situation became a major preoccupation that prompted the new regime to urgently embark on this massive construction drive to remedy the situation. The dilapidated road network together with the absence of and inaccessibility to basic social services in the entire area, led to the immediate and simultaneous construction of the Barra-Kerewan Highway and the Yahya Jammeh Babili Mansa Bridge in the ditto Kerewan locality in order to further ease the problem of mobility. The construction drive continued unabated to connect the entire area from Kerewan through Farafenni and Sabach Sanjal in the North Bank Region right up to Laminkoto via Kaur and Wassu in the Central River Region.The Government’s genuine commitment and sincerity of purpose in this drive will sooner than later come to fruition and achieve the desired objective in the final phase by connecting Laminkoto and the rest of the north bank of the Upper River Region via Sandu and Wuli respectively.
In the same vein,the Government has not lost sight of the importance of maintaining a robust road network linking the country with the out- side world along the Barra/Amdalai,Farafenni/Keur Ayib, Basse/Senoba and Mandinaba/Giboro axel and the four main entry border outposts.
Examples abound over other successfully and highly acclaimed projects in this vital sector in different parts of the country. The timely overhaul and construction of the once impassable Amadou Samba Highway linking Gunjur and Brikama in addition to the Kombo Coastal Highway connecting all the coastal towns from Kartong onwards and the major Mandinaba-Basse-Sabi Highway via Soma are sufficient evidence of the commitment of the Revolution in its sincere objectiveto connect the entire country on all fronts in line with the broader Vision 2025 initiative.The ongoing multifaceted Banjul International Airport Extension Projects are parts of the package to connect the country with the wider world.
This dynamic and aggressive infrastructural drive of the Revolution continues unabated to now include several edifices of national pride such as the New National Assembly Building, the Gambia Radio and Television Services complex, the Serrekunda General Hospital and the newly constructed state of the art Petroleum House in Kololi and the imposing Masjid Yahya Jammeh in Gunjur. All these laudable and impressive developmental strides candidly reflect and reinforce His Excellency the Leader’s earlier statement in 1999 at the commissioning of the Gambia Ports Authority’s Bonded Warehouse Project that the Revolution is poised to initiating new projects every year or equally commissioning new ones within the same set timeframe.
Thus, with this clean bill of health, the end result has impacted positively on the lives of the citizenry both socially and economically.The Revolution has truly provided the people with a new sense of hope and optimism thereby enabling them to breathe a fresh sigh of relief. This newly created environment has facilitated the ability for people, goods and services to move smoothly and unfettered throughout the country contrary to what obtained during the 1st Republic.
To be continued
By Pa Modou Njie