Our daily bread

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With Aisha Jallow

One part of the Lord’s Prayer is mentioning our daily bread, this is and has always been a large and important part of all human’s diet. Most of us couldn’t imagine beginning our day without a piece of bread. People who are waiting for the ferry in Banjul step out to the opposite side of the road to buy some filled bread. The price of wheat has skyrocketed, bakeries struggle to buy wheat flour for a reasonable price and poor people struggle to buy some bread. The war in Ukraine has affected so many things, and one of them is the cost of wheat. Ukraine is called the grain shed, or the granary, of Europe.

The fertile soil in Ukraine is perfect for growing wheat and sunflowers. Sunflowers are used to make oil, but not much has flourished in Ukraine because of the Russian despot Vladimir Putin and his crazy war. Exporting wheat to both countries in Europe but also Africa is a large source of income for the Ukrainian people. The farmers in Ukraine have tried to farm their land, despite being forced to take shield for missile attacks. The harvests that are not used to feed the Ukrainian people are loaded on large container ships. These ships have not been allowed to leave the ports, they are taken hostage by the Russian military. There have been negotiations between Russia and European leaders that the ships should be allowed to sail. Negotiating with Putin is a walk on thin ice and nothing he promises can be trusted. Promises can and will be broken by him, that is more of a rule than an exception.

The suffering caused by a maniac is unimaginable and especially nowadays when we have the right to expect better than this. In the old days the world was full of power greedy men who started wars and enjoyed them. It was almost expected that oldtime rulers started a battle here and there to show how manly and mighty they were. Nowadays we should know better, and those of us who have evolved know that being a man is not about starting a fight and using weapons. Russia is lacking young men because of the war, which Putin doesn’t allow anyone to call a war. More than 300,000 men have recently been recruited to take part in the war. So many men have fled the country because they are not prepared to get killed. Mentally sick men are fetched from the asylums, men living with HIV and other horrible diseases are picked out and sent to the war scenes in Ukraine. Prisoners, convicted for rape and murder are released and sent out to fight for Russia.

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This battle is crazy and the Russian soldiers are fighting with rusty weapons and are forced to provide themselves with some kind of uniforms. They are told to bring their wives’ or girlfriends’ sanitary pads with them, because there is a lack of wound dressing. Imagine that! These men are forced to go out in a war they don’t understand and are not equipped for. They are canon feed and it is sad. Yes, it is sad that so many innocent people are getting killed on both sides. Russia is such a large country so it took long before people even realized what was going on. Common Russians didn’t even care about the war , which was not called a war, and God forbid that anyone said these words because they were arrested and imprisoned for at least 12 years.

Why should you care about Putin and the war in Ukraine? It has nothing to do with you, you might think, and is it not about time that Europeans tasted the same suffering as your ancestors have done? Many Africans even support Vladimir Putin and see him as a strong man with a conviction. We have African leaders who have traveled to Russia during this war and have been negotiating with Putin. What these African leaders fail to see is that Putin can’t be trusted. He is a former KGB agent and is trained to show no emotions and to hide his intentions. He can appear reasonable and jovial if he can gain something from that, but not even his closest men can feel safe in his presence. They can’t even feel safe far away from him as his tentacles reach out in the world like an octopus from hell.

So why should you care about the war in Ukraine? Because it is affecting you in so many ways. All the prices have gone up, and many businessmen have used the war to gain even more money than before. Yes, the price of wheat has gone up because there is a lack of wheat, but wait a minute…

Do we really have to import wheat from Ukraine? Do we have to import rice from China or poultry from the US or onions and carrots from Senegal? Why are we not growing all of this in The Gambia, because that is actually possible? The Government in Ghana recently decided that nothing that can be grown and bred in Ghana will be imported. If they can do that, why is that not possible in The Gambia? It is not possible because there is no plan for how to feed the Gambian people. People are used to complain about the prices, and blaming the Government for their lack of initiative, but for how long can we keep on like this?

The Ghanaian Minister of Information, Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has said, and I quote:

“Government has deployed pragmatic and practical strategy to strenghthen the capacity of local producers to help increase the local production of food items.”

Hon. Nkrumah stated that the high demand of foreign food produce is affecting local production of food in the country. The import ban concerns food items like rice, fish, poultry products and cooking oil, to give you some examples. The Ghanaian Government will spend the next six months to boost food production in the country. This will decrease the food costs and increase job opportunities for the Ghanaian people.

This sounds like music in my ears, and of course I come to the question: Hello, Gambian leaders, have you heard about this? Ghana is not far away! Go there and learn something! Come back home and do something! Actions speak louder than words, and you are good at talking, we all know that. Show us that you are able to take action, that you take your responsibilities seriously. People are hungry! They are hungry, but you are not and that is why you get lazy. The one who has to fight for his daily meals has no time to be lazy.

His main focus is how to get food on the table for his family.

There is no need to import any of the food items that can be grown and bred in The Gambia! You seem to be so used to your climate that you don’t see the benefits you have, compared to many other countries and especially here in Europe. I really can’t understand why not many people grow their own food, why not every little patch is used for growing whatever there is space for. Potatoes can grow in buckets or sacks with soil. Tomatoes can grow on a small space where they have protection from the wind and enough sun. The Government is responsible for feeding its people and to show them the possibilities. Being a farmer, or a small producer is the best job one can have, as we all need our daily bread.