Regardless of how advanced our democracy becomes, or how free citizens are to express themselves, if ordinary folk cannot afford to put food on their tables, the democracy will still be lost on them. Among the things citizens want in a developed country is the ability to feed themselves and their families.
Your government has put up a budget in which there are very important measures to stabilize the economy and reduce the cost of living. For instance, there are tax cuts on imported rice and some other basic commodities. However, we are now in February and the cost of rice and other basic necessities still remains exorbitantly high.
Many citizens are still struggling to put food on their tables. This is worth looking into as the rate of poverty is still high and shows no sign, as yet, of going down. When people have enough food, water, shelter and other basic amenities, it makes it that much easier to lead them.
However, when people find it hard to afford food because it is expensive then they become disgruntled and easily frustrated. A solution must be sought – and soon. There are certain things we should do which will ease the burden on ordinary folk but these have to be long term.
It is high time we started finding ways of feeding ourselves. Mr President, we have to invest heavily in the production of food, rice in particular. Let us revive the cultivation of rice at massive rates and feed the nation. If we are desirous of solving the problem of food security, we have to put certain things in place.
For instance, we have to take what I call ‘development oriented education’ seriously. It has been revealed by a research I conducted with some of my studenta that the fisheries department is handicapped because they lack professionals who can conduct research on fish and fishing. This, it was revealed, is because there is no marine biology at the University of the Gambia which means for someone to get the necessary expertise, s/he has to travel to other countries. This is expensive and thus the lack of resources kicks in.
Our curriculum must seek to address the food deficit. If we have a curriculum from junior school, senior school through to the university, then the system will produce the needed expertise to not only cultivate enough food, but preserve the surplus for export. Thus we do not have to depend on imported food. This will also mean additional income to boost our economy.
The mere fact that there have been tax cuts and the prices have not gone down shows that the time has come for us to stop depending on imported food. We must produce more and find ways and means of preserve it better for our own use and for further exportation.
We have the land, the human resources, the expertise and the man power to feed this nation. All we need now is leadership and the political will to do what is right. Our people have suffered for too long and it is time we put a stop to their woes.
Have a Good Day Mr President.