Mr Alieu Jammeh, the minister of Youth and Sports, while advising the departing team on Thursday stated: “Much has been done in creating the environment to employ youths. The challenges are still enormous and that’s why the Ministry of Youth and Sports is looking at those two cardinal principles of the president and his government which is drive the agenda of food self sufficiency… to be able to eat what we grow and grow what we eat and addressing the needs of young people to get them employed. We have joined this two principles together to see what innovative concepts and programmes we can come up with that can address these two simultaneously; where employment will be created for our young people and at the same time we will be able achieve the very noble objectives of food self sufficiency for this country. I want to urge the beneficiaries to take the training seriously in achieving those skills, knowledge and experience that can enable us to ensure that the Songhai model is successfully replicated here in The Gambia. “We cannot ensure sustainable agricultural development if we don’t work out mechanism and strategies to make agriculture attractive to our young people who will eventually have to step in to take charge when that fifty-year-old man or woman has to pass on.”
Agriculture Minister Solomon Owens described Songhai as an ‘innovative centre that is looking forward to developing a new Africa; an Africa that is self sufficient in food production’.
“As young people represent 63 percent of the population of this country, while in Songhai you will be acquiring skills and expertise in horticultural production, livestock production, aquaculture, integrated agricultural production techniques, mechanisation of agriculture and other skills to contribute to the agricultural development of this country when you get back. The opportunities at Songhai are numerous. Presently we have six young Gambians who are at Songhai for a six-month training funded by the ministry of agriculture through the Nema project. For all Gambians that have ever gone to Benin have always been positive and from the management of the centre, this is a far bigger group than anything.”
Meanwhile, the departed team comprise 40 percent female between the ages of 17 and 35 and was part of a scheme dubbed, Songhai the Gambia which was recently launched by government, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme. It was based on the model of the Songhai Centre in Benin. The project will establish a multi-functional agriculture value chain that is sustainable, viable and competitive where agriculture will be a weapon of broad based and inclusive development.]]>