One of the important steps that The Gambia can take to improve its agricultural productivity is through the establishment of district youth farms. Senior officials at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the National Youth Council, the National Enterprise Development Initiative and the National Youth Service Scheme recently held meetings with district authorities and members of the Kerewan technical advisory committee to sensitize them on the need to start district youth farms across the North Bank Region.
The purpose of the meeting was to share with regional governor and district chiefs the need for the establishment of district youth farms, as officials claim the initiative aim at complementing the President’s flagship “back to land” call and to encourage youths to take up farming and contribute their quota in the overall attainment of food self sufficiency and, by extension, use the proceeds to finance youth programs at the district level.
Addressing the meeting, Mr. Alieu K. Jammeh, permanent secretary at the ministry of Youth and Sports who led the delegation called on district youths to support the laudable initiative, noting that it would herald a new regime of youth led-initiative in occasioning meaningful development projects, and transforming their own lives as well as the fortunes of their communities. Jammeh promised that his ministry would make every necessary farm inputs available to the youths on time, to promote full active participation.
Commenting on the marketing of the produce, Mr. Jammeh noted that all necessary arrangements would be in place to ensure that different types of farm produce are marketed. He hinted that given increased production, the Gambia Groundnut Cooperation (GGC) would continue to increase marketing outlets to farmers in the marketing of groundnut.
In his remarks, Governor Eduwarr Seckan hailed the insight of the Youth ministry for campaigning for this and initiative, which he said would engage youths to play proactive roles in the attainment of food self sufficiency and empower them to undertake projects to improve their own welfare.
Alhajie Seckan said the president has laid the necessary framework by championing the agricultural renaissance.
He said the NBR youths are ever ready to support the president’s quest for food security in the country, and that his office would work with district authorities who are willing to provide land to the youths. He then urged the ministry to act on time in providing all necessary farm inputs and machineries to boost production. He further emphasized that his office would support the regional youth office to reach out to youths and hold series of discussion to prepare them for the execution of the projects.
Also speaking, chief of Jokadu, Alh. Jimfatma Jobe described as laudable the new initiative to empower youths in agricultural production. According to him, the initiative should be met half-way by the people who should be ready to embrace it. He further, on behalf of all district chiefs, said they would provide the needed land but then the ministry should promptly provide seed, fertilizer and implements on time, as this would allow the youth participants to commence planting on time. According to him, there is no doubt that providing fertilizer and high quality seed would boost production and ensure food availability. He then thanked President Jammeh for the importance his government attaches to food security and for also leading by example.
For his part, Mr. Musa Mbye, a member of the delegation assured the district authorities of their commitment and concerns towards the realization of district farms, saying that the produces from the farm would exclusively belong to the youths in each district. He reiterated that the ministry of Youths and Sports would provide all support to the participating youths.
Pa Malick Ceesay, national coordinator of the National Enterprise Development Initiative used the opportunity to inform district authorities of his organisation’s intervention in promoting small entrepreneurship development, citing capacity development and provision of loan to youths to engage in business sectors. He asserted that the proceeds from the youth farms would help to support youths during the time of National Youth Conference and Festival NAYCONF, as it would contribute in empowering them to be economic and food-independent, supplementing support from individuals and donors.
He believed that the establishment of youth farms would obviously promote mutual understanding and trust among the youthful population. Mr. Ceesay urged youths to acquire skills to effectively enhance their participation in national development.
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