By Juldeh Njie A retired civil servant and private consultant, Mamour Malick Jagne, has called on Gambians particularly young people to shift to agricultural irrigation techniques to transform the sector. Speaking in a Standard exclusive on the sidelines of a recently held two-day training for journalists and CSOs on the 2019 draft estimated budget, organised by the International Republican Institute, Mr Jagne said: “For fifty years, people have relied on rain fed agriculture and people are still poor therefore we need a change. And only young people can change the narrative”. He said if a person does something for fifty years and hasn’t seen any improvement then the person has to change. “So that’s why I suggest that instead of rain fed agriculture, we should shift to irrigation. This irrigation can be done by building boreholes, or drip irrigation”. He said in the process of doing that, boreholes and sprinklers or drip irrigation should be encouraged all over the country to attract others too, who desire a career in agriculture. He said: “In terms of the budget. I am not proposing that irrigation be 100% because that depends on the policies of the government but what is clearly needed is incentives for those who are going to invest in these areas.” According to him, it is necessary for the government to encourage those who are investing and allow them to decide on how they want to go about it, whether they will make land available or serve as mediators between the people and the investors. “…or any other means they want to do it, but the important thing is we have to start now. We cannot wait any longer”, he tasked. He said when irrigation system is put in place it would help boost the economy because people can be producing fruits, vegetables and maize all year round. ‘The 2019 budget’ The budget expert also called for the allocation of budget be done according to regions, given the technological advancement of the country. “It is important because once you know, you can influence and you can go to your national assembly and ask why and how the money that is allocated to your region is being spent”, he explained. He called on Gambians, particularly youths to be proactive and understand that the national budget is theirs and therefore, be ready to be part of the reforms.]]>
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