This is a commendable fact when the stakes of hunger are looked at around the continent. According to FAO, one in every four persons is hungry in sub-Saharan Africa. So looking at this and then a country in the midst of that milieu striving towards self- sufficiency in food, is indeed commendable and we congratulate the government of The Gambia and hope that the momentum will only heighten as we face still more challenging years with regards to food security.
Food security is a challenge for our times. The massive population growth coupled with the climate change problem makes it all the more important to fight ever so hard for securing a healthy food base for the country. Being self-sufficient in terms of food requires more than just a political will and commitment to goals, although these are instrumental and key. Nonetheless, there needs to be a solid programme put in place a realistic paradigm upon which all can rise and fall on. An intrinsic part of that programme is the need to localise the food economy.
Localising production and supporting home- based agriculture should be a foremost priority. The importation of food is not sustainable and in the long run we will be forced by necessity to cut down thereby affecting the entire country. This is captured in the Vision 2016 of the government geared towards localising rice production. With the proper means to develop our own local economy by investing and supporting our farmers, we can transcend all the inherent hurdles and move towards national development at a faster pace.
The Gambia’s population is increasing likewise the needs and wants of the people. Other nations that export food and other products are also experiencing a rapid increase in population growth. So, in order to meet the needs of their rapidly growing populace they cut down their exportation. Faced with such impending crisis, the bell is ringing clearly to wake the nation up and move towards greater investment in our own local industries.
Globalisation has become a nightmare that only benefits the needs of the wealthy few and improvises the dispossessed majority of the earth and The Gambia is no exception to this. So if The Gambia and by extension the entire third world, have to be liberated from economic imperialism and the so called foreign aid, then we must revisit and revitalise our own home based industries.
Given the importance of agriculture in the fight for food security and the drive towards localisation, it is of the essence that we raise awareness on its increase in productivity. The government must be commended for the constant ‘back to the land’ call. However, there needs to be an increased call, with the promotion of reliance on local producers and factories, which are now on the increase. The government should also invest heavily in the sector, which will be the best way of sensitising the people because it will become a viable economic option that the citizenry can be sure to engage in.
We have Vision 2016 which is less than a year from now and the case remains the same, just as the questions that we ask ourselves. Will the goals be met? And if they are met will they be sustainable for the long run? We hope for the best and with the knowledge that when the proper policies are put in place then it won’t be long till we are set straight on the road towards food self-sufficiency.]]>