By Olimatou Coker
Gambia Songhai Initiative has recently graduated its 8th batch of 76 students at a colorful ceremony held at the GSI school premises in Chamen, NBR.
GSI is a project designed to empower youth develop against the growing need of transforming the agricultural sector into a productive, efficient, sustainable and remunerative enterprise for youth in generating production.
Speaking, at the occasion, Amie Fabureh, minister of agriculture, said in a continent where more than 60 percent of the population is on average young people, “our future and indeed our present depends on what we do, not just for the young people but also with the young people.
“I assure you that my ministry will continue to strengthen our partnership and work in close collaboration to support the GSI project and generate maximum impact on the lives of Gambian youth”.
Fabureh urged all young people to come on board to make use of and maximise the numerous opportunities that the government of The Gambia together with its development partners continue to put at their disposal.
Bakary Badjie, minister of youth and sports, said the GSI project is designed to tackle growing youth unemployment and increasing poverty among rural populations of The Gambia. This is aimed at tackling the multiple challenges of food insecurity, environmental degradation coupled with climate change and youth unemployment.
He added that Songhai development model is to create rural cities to stem rural migration through an integrated agriculture linked to industrialisation and service provision thereby making farming a viable proposition for the youths, creating jobs and sustaining livelihood.
“I also challenge our graduates to uphold the ethical values acquired from this centre as you endeavor to serve your fellow youth in the country. You must make use of the knowledge you acquired and be good ambassadors of this reputable training centre. You have seized the initiative and pursued opportunities to upgrade yourself, despite the challenges that I know many of you have had to face in having to meet the daily demands of the training”.
He said there is urgent need for other sectors in Government like the ministries of agriculture, fisheries, and trade to harmonise their respective activities to help GSI project to generate maximum impact on the lives of Gambian youth. “The project has trained over 300 youth since its inception. The Ministry has also invested over D1.5 million at the Kundam youth farm in Basse, URR and installed proper water system in order to have nonstop running water throughout the year.
Sainey Drammeh, executive director of PIA, who moderated the ceremony, said Gambia Songhai Initiative has graduated over 278 so far, 136 female and 142 males.
Also speaking, a student representative said they are optimistic that agriculture is the solution to The Gambia’s attainment of food sufficiency as a result more investment needs to be done in the agricultural sector to enable the Gambian youth to venture into agriculture. He expressed gratitude to all their various supporters including government and all the NGOs throughout their programme.
After completing 12 months of training at GSI, the 76 students were awarded with certificates and D12,000 as a startup.