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Thursday, October 1, 2020

Jammeh wants continental agric bank

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Speaking at the 23rd African Union summit held in the Equitorial Guinean capital, Malabo, over the weekend, President Jammeh stated: “I think we should think it [agriculture] as an African Union project and it is either we form a continental agriculture bank or maybe the African Development Bank can have a commercial agriculture window for African farmers. Otherwise governments will not be able to provide enough incentives to all farmers but if we work as a continent, we should be able to solve problems. If we want to take agriculture as an individual project, it will take years for many countries to attain [food self-sufficiency]. As an AU project this will also minimise incidences of conflict of land in border areas. One of our colleagues has stated that Namibia has a water shortage and so if we make it a continent-wide project where neighbouring countries can work together because in this issue some countries have excess water while others do not have water. As a continental project, we will be able to work together and countries that have excess water and share a border with Namibia can share their water. Some other countries may have water but are mountainous with less arable land and others flat. It is also not possible for small-scale farmers because like in The Gambia, it takes a small-scale farmer once he takes a commercial loan from a commercial bank to be working for the bank because of the high interest rate. We can solve these problems through an African agriculture bank or for the meantime the ADB can have a window for agriculture so that all small-scale farmers would have access to loans that will make them grow more crops.”

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Renewing Vision 2016 calls

President Jammeh who also spoke to journalists after his arrival from the heads of state and government summit said: “The best strategy is to harness our human resources because we cannot have agriculture without human resources. We can achieve all the objectives by the grace of Almighty Allah if we all as Gambians are determined and grow what we have to eat and eat what we have to grow. The beauty of it is the fact that this is something I have been advocating for the past 19 years and the food crisis that happened a few years ago has taught everybody a lesson. Who would have believed that one day in The Gambia, a bag of rice would cost D1,250? You realise that the more we depend on import, the more expensive it becomes. What is the average salary of a Gambian? We have so many health problems simply because we eat what we do not know. I think the whole of the African continent has also realised this because the continent spends almost 5 billion dollars on imported rice annually when we have countries in Africa that have nine months of rainfall. When we declared Vision 2016 for rice food sufficiency, a lot of people were saying that is not possible but Nigeria has brought it down to Vision 2015 and they are telling me that they are going to achieve it. When I say Vision 2016, I am not talking about rice only but other foods including beans and cassava. We will achieve it and I am very glad that everybody is talking about what I have been saying.”

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