The First Lady Madam Zineb Jammeh, who was accompanied by the Minister of Basic and Secondary Education Fatou Lamin Faye and other government officials, thanked the women gardeners for their untiring efforts and immense contributions to national development.
“Thank you for welcoming me,” she said, while pledging support to alleviate the women’s “constraints” and “problems”. She then assured the women gardeners that “I would do my best” in hopes of finding a better solution and exploring ways of working together towards nation building.
The First Lady made these comments after the women had complained about water shortages in some parts of the horticultural garden, among other issues.
The Minister for Agriculture, Solomon Owens, provided contexts for the First Lady’s visit: “I think it was just appropriate for the First Lady to show solidarity with the women of this country, visit some of the activities going on in the women’s project. This [garden] project started in the late 70s as a small project and women were invited to participate and today it is the most recognised women’s garden in the whole of the country.”
Asked about the impact of the First Lady’s visit in defining the lives of women gardeners, he said: “Today is International Women’s Day. It is a day for the women and you see they are also happy and joyous that the First Lady was able to visit [them]. Now they also put across some of their constraints like water, land preparation, marketing and you heard the First Lady said she sympathises with them, she understands their constraints and their problems and would do all in her capacity to assist them. That is a plus for the garden where the First Lady comes and promises to do something for them. I think on a day like this, [it] is quite significant.”
The regional agricultural director for the West Coast Region Isatou Jarju acknowledged that there are water shortages, but was quick to add that her department has plans and projects such as The Gambia Commercialisation and Agricultural Value (GCAV) chain management, Sustainable Land Management Project (SLMP) among other projects to address these challenges.
She added: “These projects are here to intervene in the areas that the department could not due to lack of finance or other engagements.”
Ms Jarju reaffirmed her department’s commitment to help women gardeners, saying “we are here for the farmers”.]]>