A week-long National Youth Summer camp for 45 youths drawn from across the country on Monday kicked off at the Rural Farmers Agriculture Training Centre in Jenoi Village in Jarra West District, Lower River Region.
The event, held on the theme, “Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Information Technology (ELIT 2016)”, was organised by the Global Youth Innovative Network, The Gambia Chapter (GYIN) and funded by the National Agricultural Land and Water Management Project (NEMA).
Alhagie Abou Njie, the Deputy Governor of the Lower River Region, commended GYIN and NEMA Project for the initiative, describing the weeklong youth camp as timely and important.
He thus called on the participants to seize the opportunity and develop their skills on the topic.
“These topics you are about to be engaged in are very important because many including you the participants want to become successful entrepreneurs; for that to happen one needs skills on entrepreneurship. For success to be sustained it also requires good leadership and knowledge on Information Technology,” he maintained.
The Deputy Governor reminded the youth on the issues of HIV/Aids and urged them to adopt and inculcate positive attitude amongst peers.
He equally encouraged them to share the knowledge gained with their colleagues in their various communities.
Banky Njie, the Business Development Officer of the NEMA Project, gave an overview of NEMA, saying that the agri-business is a priority of the NEMA Project and that the project works with the private sector, financial institutions and Non-Governmental Organisations, as well as Civil Society Organisations.
“Helping small farmers increase their productivity and linking them to markets is an essential way to feed the nearly one billion people in the world who go to bed hungry today. It is essential how the world will manage pressures on food stocks in a time of scarce resources, climate change, and as a growing and more affluent global population demands more and better quality food”. He said it is against this backdrop that the NEMA project (supported by the Government of The Gambia, IFAD, AfDB&IsDB) is here to address this core issue for small holder agricultural producers, to achieve a 25% increase in income, a 30% reduction in child malnutrition and a reduction in the “hungry season” from 5-to-2 months.
According to him, the NEMA project therefore actively seeks efforts to help subsistence producers transform into market-oriented producers and link them to local, regional and sometimes, international markets as a means to improve their income in a sustainable way.
He went on: “We are focused on the majority of smallholder farmers, targeting women and youths in the six agricultural regions of the country”.
The National Coordinator of GYIN, Momodou Edrissa Njie said that the summer camp came up as an initiative designed by the participants and that the ELIT 2016, being the first edition, came following series of successful participation in the implementation of the Creating Opportunities for Rural Youth (CORY) activities across the country.
“The ELIT 2016 is designed with the objective to enable young people harness their potential through networking, learning and sharing of best practices to foster and promote youth-led entrepreneurship in the country.
On his part, the acting Deputy Director of Agriculture, Fanding Saidykhan challenged the youth to utilise the opportunities created by the Government of the Gambia, citing the various projects under the agricultural sector designed to enhance youth empowerment.
Saidykhan equally advised the participants to take the training seriously.
Musa Jarra, the Youth Coordinator for the Region; and Micky Jawla, the NEMA Field Officer in LRR, all echoed similar sentiments.
by Salifu M Touray