Moses Sonko was speaking exclusively to The Standard at President Jammeh’s farm in Farato where he led a group of 56 young people to help harvest the rice field.
He said: “We are here to give a lending hand to our president specifically in support of Vision 2016. Sometimes, I do not like to say his Vision even though he initiated it; it’s a vision for the whole country.
“We are here to show support and solidarity and showing the youth from the Kombos that we also can take part in this initiative. Above that, Hands on Afrika Trading has been holding series of small talks with young people and trying to see how they can be involved and engaged in agriculture.
“We have a programme that we are putting together called ‘Self-sustenance through Agricultural Growth and Entrepreneurship.’ In this, we are trying to show them that they might not have an experience or background in agriculture but there is still a way that each and every Gambian can be involved in agro-business. I think coming to the president’s farm is very important because it is also about supporting ourselves and the country. This is also because if The Gambia came to a point where it is self-sufficient in food, it becomes something very useful to our development.”
According to CEO Sonko, the declaration of Vision 2016 by President Jammeh came at a time the sub-region is grappling with the Ebola outbreak. This, he opined, invites The Gambia to tighten its belt as food imports from affected countries will be affected.
He added: “Let me tell you something, currently the sub-region is faced with the Ebola outbreak and this may have an impact on the availability of banana and colanut in the country. These food commodities come mainly from Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone and those two countries that are affected by Ebola. But if we have our own local supply of banana, it does not matter what is happening around the region. We need to have our own independence not from slavery or colonialism but we need to have it in our survival. If you depend on others for your survival, they dictate how you live. One thing we have to first eradicate is the stigma towards agriculture by young people because in California, for example, most of the billionaires are farmers. There is the concept or notion that farming is for the illiterates but this is not true. As a matter of fact, one has to be very smart and environmentally conscious to be a good agriculturist.”
Also present at the farm was Mr Abdoulie Bah, public relations officer for Hands on Afrika Trading. He told The Standard: “We saw it fitting to take ownership of Vision 2016 and as the saying goes, ‘if someone does something good for you, it is important for you to give back.’ This can be demonstrated in different ways which is why we decided to come here to support the president. Our company since, its establishment in 2002, has been paying keen attention on young people especially in the urban areas. The main areas of focus are agro-business and entrepreneurship.”]]>