Sunday, 11 March 2012 20:01(JollofNews) – President Yahya Jammeh has vowed to go the extra mile in order to shoulder responsibilities and support efforts aimed at alleviating the suffering of Gambians confronted with serious food shortages and dangerously inflated prices of basic commodities.
“When you are hard pressed by circumstances like that, it is better to beg than to see your people dying,” he told GRTS Thursday upon his arrival at Banjul International Airport, after a three-day visit in Doha, State of Qatar.
Jammeh's pronouncement came in the wake of unprecedented 2011-2012 farming season that has been declared by his government as a failure resulting from severe crop failures and a corresponding soaring of food prices.
“The post-harvest assessment of the 2011 farming season, which was characterized by below normal and poorly distributed rainfall, indicated a reduction in total crop production of more than 70%. Very poor harvests, varying from nothing harvested in some of the villages and regions to unsatisfactory harvests of rice, groundnuts, millets, maize and sorghum in others, could barely guarantee self-provisioning of 2 months. In an average year, self-provisioning is put at 4-6 months,” said a statement from the Ministry of Agriculture.
The outspoken Gambian leader promised to deploy all the resources at his disposal to help in chalking out plans to remedy this situation. “With regard to the issue of food shortage and harvest, we are going to address that. I will rather die than see Gambians starve. That is one of the reasons I went to Qatar, and by Monday, we are going to have an emergency cabinet meeting to address the issue of food shortage,” he said.
Agriculture is the most pro-poor sector in the country's economy, accounting for over 70 percent of employment in 2010. It is responsible for generating earnings and boosting tax revenue, the country's main source of income and acts as a catalyst in reducing poverty.
Written by Abdoulie John
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