According to GRTS television reports, President Jammeh indicated in his closing remarks at the eighth ministerial retreat at Kanilai on Friday, 20 June, that over one hundred million dollars or D4,000 million dalasi has been invested in the agricultural sector but that no significant progress has been made. He further stated: “We have twenty years (20yrs) project in agriculture but prior to that we had thirty years (30yrs), now we are talking about seventy years (70yrs) of different projects in agriculture, and what we have as achievement is less than two thousand hectares (2000 ha).” He added that hundreds of tractors have been injected into the sector but this did not produce the desired results. He blamed corruption for the failure of this sector.
What is clear from the admission is that the policy on agriculture has failed to effect changes in the lives of the people but he has not indicated how he is going to put things right other than blaming a group of managers in this sector, dismissals and arrests.
Has he come up with solutions on how to organize farmers and provide them tools so that they can produce plenty rather than to continue to rely on the hoe, which will keep them in perpetual poverty? What are the plans of his government to provide farmers with adequate quality seeds and fertilizer to boost production and enhance their livelihoods? What plan is there to purchase the nuts of farmers by paying cash for the nuts at a price negotiated with farmers? What wholesale and effective plans are in place to address the perennial problems of transport, marketing and storage facilities for women gardeners? If these and similar questions are left unanswered, Gambia will experience another 50 or 70 years of low production and poverty.
The question is if 20 years of heavy investment in the agricultural sector cannot transform Gambia into a food basket, can this be done in two years, as claimed by the so-called ‘Vision 2016’, by relying on the same policies?