The Gambian leader said such a ban would create a viable market for women gardeners in the country. He made this pronouncement on Friday during his state of the nation address at the National Assembly, marking the beginning of the 2015 legislative year.
He said: “In our quest to achieving Vision 2016, that is eating what we grow and growing what we eat, as of March 1, we are not going to allow the importation of vegetables. Anywhere you go you have the women’s vegetable garden. So, the importation of vegetable crops like lettuce, tomato, carrot, pepper, cucumber, cabbage et cetera that can be grown here will be banned as of March. The minister for trade, take note. Is it not an insult that we import vegetable from desert countries? The exception will be the vegetable crops that cannot grow in our climate. For the tourism sector, there will be special differentiation for vegetable crops that cannot grow under our type of climatic condition and are required by the tourists. Let us patronise our women farmers so that they can have more money.
President Jammeh has asked the leadership of the armed and security forces to form what he called an “agricultural regimen” and step up efforts at joining the national campaign for food self sufficiency by 2016.
He asserted that the central government, as of 2017, will not buy a single bag of rice for the men in uniform.
“By 2017, the government will not be responsible for the feeding of the armed forces. They must feed themselves. If the schools can grow their own vegetable gardens, why not the armed forces? The government is no longer going to buy one bag of rice for the armed forces. So, the agricultural regiment should be up and running and I think the next recruitment should be recruitment of farmers.”
ISIL does not represent my Islam
Jammeh also warned religious leaders in the country against allowing themselves to be ‘enticed by money’ to support terror as it is being demonstrated by Islamic State, the terrorist group wreaking havoc in Iraq, Syria and Libya.
He said the Islamic State or ISIL does not represent the Islamic religion that he practises and anybody found working with such groups in The Gambia ‘will not even face trial’.
He warned: “If you are enticed by money to accept such people here, you will regret why you are in this world. You should accept dignity in poverty and not affluence in slavery. Those criminal elements are forbidden from entering in this country and I urged the security forces to arrest them on the spot. As far as we are concerned, our Jihad is to fight these criminal elements to defend Islam because these people are tarnishing the image of Islam.
“Islam is a very clean religion. It is a religion of peace and respect of human rights, regardless of religious beliefs. Unfortunately, what is going on is an international terrorism gang trying to use Islam as a cover to carry out heinous crimes. I have seen how the International Sons of Infirmity and Lies call, ISIL, put innocent people to death in the most cruel and inhumane way; that cannot be my religion- that cannot be Islam.
“Therefore, I will make it very clear that such satanic beliefs will not be acceptable in this country. You cannot be more Muslim than the Prophet Muhammed (SAW). When the prophet’s disciples were fleeing persecution in Mecca, he told them to go to a Christian king and if it were these criminals they would have killed them. And, even at that time of Jihad there were Jews, Christians and not a single church was burned down or a single Jew killed because he was Jew and the same rule was applied to pagans. This is not Islam and we will never call it Islam in any way. Anybody caught in this country practising this sort of criminal behaviour will not even face trial because the people they slaughter are not given decency of facing trial,” he said.
Maintaining double-digit growth
The Gambian leader has promised that his government will devise the policies required to maintain the growth of the local economy at ‘double-digit’ which, he emphasised, is essential if he were to transform the country into a middle-income state by 2020 and an economic superpower by 2025.
He said despite the challenges posed by the Ebola outbreak and the late rains of 2014, the local economy, as a result of his government’s sound economic policies, ‘shows resilience’ at a growth rate of 2 percent.
He added that his government will also step up efforts at ensuring that corruption is stamped out of public service and the country.
Jammeh: “My government’s goal is for The Gambia to become a middle-income country in 2020 and an economic superpower by 2025. That means attaining and sustaining double-digit growth, which is what is required to lead to a better quality of life for our people.
“In this year 2015, we are poised to return to strong growth of at least 6 per cent with that objective, the 2015 budget [states] the clear need to contain the challenges posed by the debt burden and steer the budget towards long term fiscal sustainability. Government will continue implementing policies that support fiscal prudence and discipline using a combination of revenue and expenditure measures with the objective of lowering net domestic borrowing to 1 percent of GDP in 2015, and near zero per cent in the medium term. Addressing the fiscal imbalance will help curtail the growth of public debt thereby leading to a reduction in inflationary and exchange rate pressures. These are crucial as we enter into the final phase of Programme for Accelerated Growth and Development, full swing into the Vision 2016 and preparatory stages of post-PAGE programme. As an utmost priority, we must exercise prudent management of public finances, avoid wasteful spending and continue with policy of zero tolerance for corruption in public procurement. We need to propel our economy to spark an industrial revolution in our country. Within the next few years, we must add value to all our produce; especially agricultural produce here in The Gambia and all the basic food items that are being increasingly imported.”]]>