The rainy season is approaching and farmers have started clearing their fields. This is coming on the heels of President Jammeh’s much-publicised vision of rice self-sufficiency by 2016.
Though farming is the main source of livelihood for some 75 per cent of the population, especially rural women, for decades, food production has fallen short of the country’s consumption needs.
Rains in The Gambia are expected around June/July to September/October – the seasonal rainfall pattern – meaning three to four months of rain is expected in the country.
It would be difficult for farmers throughout the country to engage in year-round production on the same fields with little soil management techniques on how to maintain the nutrient content available to boost productivity.
In order to boost crops productivity, farmers need to be constantly monitored and advised on how to cooperate within their farming communities on issues relating to improvement of agricultural productivity.
Government-private partnership and stakeholders should amalgamate their knowledge and their efforts to ensure that the call for the president’s rice self-sufficiency programme is heeded because government cannot do it alone and in agriculture we can boost employment especially for the youth.
What Shekau of Boko Haram should know about Islam
Please allow me space to comment on recent atrocities committed by Boko Haram in Nigeria. “No compulsion or coercion in religion (2:256). The Qur’anic verses are clear in commanding the believers that there is no coercion or compulsion in Islam for anyone to convert. The history of 14 centuries is the proof that Muslims had no systematic compulsion to convert people to Islam. The full verse is translated as follows: “There is no coercion or compulsion in religion. The right way now stands clearly distinguished from the wrong. Hence he who rejects the evil ones and believes in Allah has indeed taken hold of the firm, unbreakable handle, and Allah (Whom he has held for support) is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” [Noble Qur’an 2:256]
Muslims have honoured this commandment and they have been careful in not forcing people to convert to Islam. The best examples are Spain, India and eastern Europe where Muslims entered with armies and conquered them yet these countries remained non-Muslim majority. On the other hand, in sub-Saharan Africa, Indonesia and Malaysia where Islamic armies never entered, these countries became Muslim majority countries. In our time in the 21 century, no Muslim army has entered in North America or Europe yet millions of people are converting to Islam by their own will.
One of the principles of understanding the Qur’an is that a verse (ayah) should be read (a) in the context of the surrounding verses, not in isolation, (b) in the context of its revelation, which may be found in the hadith collections, and (c) in the context of the whole Qur’an. A fourth requirement frequently presented is to see the words, terms and phrases used and as understood by the companions of the prophet and the following two generations (salaf). It simply means reading various commentaries of the Qur’an of the classical period and finding how they understood and explained a given verse or a passage. Not knowing Arabic is not an excuse because in the 20th century a few commentaries of the Qur’an in English language have appeared and these writers have summed up the earlier commentators. Some of them are Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Towards Understanding the Quran referred to above), Muhammad Assad and Abdullah Yusuf Ali. There are two translations and commentaries in the works, one by Dr Irfan Ahmad Khan to be published from India and the other by Dr Ahmad Zaki Hammad to be published from Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt. Some parts of both works have been published.
Another aspect of understanding the Qur’anic verse is the timeframe for application of their meaning. A verse or a passage may have special meaning for a particular time of the revelation and it does not apply after the time has passed. Or a verse or a passage may also have a generalised meaning for all times to come since its revelation.
Muhammed Lamin Juwara