Good road network key to success of 2016 food self-sufficiency drive
28th April 2014
The President, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya AJJ Jammeh has pointed to the influential role of good road network and infrastructure to the realisation of the national agenda for food security. The President was speaking at a meeting in Soma, Jarra West, in the Lower River Region on Monday as the Dialogue with People Tour cruises to winding up engagements upcountry.
This idea of the President has been reflected in the plans to develop the identified 2016 intervention sites, as almost in all the sites visited, road andbridge construction has been central. Either feeder roads are to be built from the main roads or within the rice field areas – from the upland to stretch across or around the swamps. A lot of bridges would also be constructed over streams to allow farmers to connect to their fields without hindrance or danger of water borne inflictions.
The President in this regard informed that when he gets to the farms, the first thing he inspects is about access. Getting access to the rice fields is enormously critical but getting the right infrastructural links between production centres and the market is equally important in the drive towards attainment of the Vision 2016, and the improvement of the livelihoods of the farmers in particular. This, the Gambian leader said is the reason his government gave priority to infrastructural development.
“Because of the good road network, women can harvest their produce in upcountry and sell them in the Kombo markets without any problem”.
He therefore promised that those who want to farm would benefit from good road network and assistance.
President Jammeh went on to reiterate his insinuation that the country has no reason to import rice for we have the wherewithal to feed ourselves and even export in the long run.
He went on to call on the youth to engage meaningfully and assist their parents in the farms like girl children do for their mothers. He suggested for them to involve in tree planting, particularly fruit trees like cashew, saying nothing is now more profitable and easier to work than cashew.
“By next tour I want to see more youths in farming,” he said, adding that nobody would come to develop our country.
His Excellency the President finally thanked the people of Jarra Soma and the Lower River Region in general for their support to his leadership and particularly for the turn out to this meeting.
Quella quella bird menace in Jarra
The people of Jarra Soma made a strong plea to the President of the Republic to help them overcome the menace of quella quella birds, which they reported denied them all of their last season harvest. The previous speakers were unanimous in their plea, pointing out their grave concern over the matter.
The quella quella bird is the world’s most abundant wild bird species, with an estimated adult breeding population of 1.5 billion pairs. Some estimates of the overall population have been as large as 10 billion. The entire population is found in sub-Saharan Africa and is generally absent from deeply forested regions and the southern reaches of South Africa. It is a small passerine bird of the weaver family Ploceidae.
The food of the quella bird consists of annual grasses, seeds and grain. As soon as the sun comes up, they come together in their huge flocks and co-operate in finding a suitable feeding place. After a successful search, they settle rapidly and can cause serious damage to crops.
The Governor of the Lower River Region (LRR), Salifu Puye, having added his voice to their request for solution to the bird menace, indicated the importance of food security in any development endeavour. He went on to highlight the numerous developments that took place in his region, which include the Mandinaba-Soma Road. He commended the Regional Education Directorate for the e-learning programme and Education Ministry for removal of the education levy in schools. The governor expressed delight that the Sankandi and Nyoro Jataba disputes have been amicably solved. He also revealed that the Rural Development Institute has developed a machine, with the assistance of some partners, which can process baobab fruit into powdered milk for consumption and export.
The Chief of Jarra West, Seyfo Yaya Jarjusey, reported that last crop season, Jarra West had produced rice and other cereal crops in abundance and were to make one of their biggest harvests of rice but for the intrusion of the Quella Quella birds, which destroyed all their produce. He informed that the matter became so serious that women waited all day long in the farms to watch out the birds but that did not prevent the birds from attacking and destroying the crops.
The chief finally assured of the area’s hundred percent support to the President, the APRC party and the Vision 2016 initiative. This, Jarjusey noted is reflected in the manner the presidential tour delegation was being received in the provincial town.
Representing the regional chairman, Sitafa Sabally, requested on behalf of the farmers for oxen and horses to allow for large scale production. He nonetheless thanked the President for the numerous developments in the region.
Site visits continue to Japineh and Sutukung
Earlier in the day, the presidential tour delegation visited Sutukung and Japineh rice farms in the same Lower River Region. The rice fields were identical in their constraints. Agric officials in charge of the area reported the menace of pig, hippo, baboon and access problems.
In response, President Jammeh promised barbed wire fence to bar the animals; a laterite road and embankment structures to manage water flow for the Sutukung rice farm. The 1,400-hectre land has an interesting inter-flow of fresh water in the rainy season and salt water in the dry season. A combination of both remote and wider intervention is needed, where both an external main road would link the farms and a mini road network within the farm.
Commenting at the Japineh farm, the chief of the area mentioned the problem of salinity and acidity. He took the opportunity to decry the laxity among people of the area towards farming, indicating that it is a major challenge to agricultural development in the area.
Having expressed government’s resolve to find solutions to the menace of animal intrusion and access, President Jammeh suggested for the transplantation of coconut trees around the brackish water area and even posited for some coconut seedlings be transported from the Coco Ocean Hotel area to Japineh. He observed that soil is very much conducive for coconut trees.
Report by Madiba Sillah and Aji Fatou Jammeh
Courtesy of Department of Information Services