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Saturday, September 18, 2021

The rains have started: Are we ready?

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Knowing that the economy of The Gambia largely depends on agriculture, it is a great time to receive a downpour and hope that it yields a good harvest for the people.

It is equally important to be prepared in terms of clearing of farms and readying oneself to engage in the production of food by having seeds and fertilizer and all the requirements to be successful in the season.

There are two parts to this: One is the individuals’ and communities’ preparedness to work for a bumper harvest; and the other is the State’s preparedness to support its citizens to ensure that they have all what they need to engage in farming. One cannot go without the other.

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It is therefore necessary to ask these questions on how prepared the farmers are. Has government made arrangements to make sure that the farmers have what they need for a bumper harvest? This is more important this year as it is clear that COVID-19 will pose serious food safety issues this year.

The Government and people of the Gambia should work together to ensure that as much food is grown as possible so that even after the eradication of this virus (let’s hope it’s soon) the effects of it will not hamper the nation’s ability to feed itself. This is crucial.

It is now common knowledge that the Gambia cannot continue to remain in the cultivation and production of groundnuts alone. I addition to the fact that there is the issue of aflotoxin which makes it difficult to have market for it, it has been shown that the focus should rather be on the cultivation and production of rice – the nation’s staple food.

In collaboration with development partners, especially countries like China, the Gambia can easily produce enough rice for its consumption and even export. The amount of money spent on the importation of rice is so huge that one wonders if it were to be invested in the cultivation, the country will not attain food self-sufficiency.

The need to explore this option is now. What will we do?

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