EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Speaking at a meeting in Foni on Monday, President Barrow pledged to empower the people of Foni through agricultural mechanization, value addition, and industrialization.
He said his government’s policy towards such empowerment include a holistic approach especially with critical enablers like road networks, electrification, and training of youths to acquire new skills needed to move the economy.
At the border village of Kampassa, the president was told that the limited road networks in the region is affecting their ability to access markets for their agricultural produce, health and educational services for their children. The only health facility in the remote border community was established and operated by ChildFund-The Gambia. It will be handed over to the community next month.
The people appealed to government to assist them in maintaining the facility in terms of personnel and resources. The community also decried the lack of potable water, erratic power supply, and poor quality telecommunications networks, which hamper their communication with the outside.
“It is shocking to learn that all these problems exist in Foni despite much hype about Foni’s development. You are a part of The Gambia and you will have equal stake and rights to development just like Banjul and Kombo. I have consulted with my various ministers about the problems highlighted here. Solutions are already being formulated. Foni cannot be left out of my government’s transformation agenda,” Mr Barrow said.
At the Bondali meeting, Ajaratou Meita Korta, a women representative, also narrated the difficulties they are undergoing on daily basis, saying access to clean water and electricity are some of their most needed facilities. “Our men face great difficulty in marketing their produce. Such income is needed to sustain families, pay for the needed services like education for our children. Our youth are not employable in Foni. They all migrate to the cities and leave communities empty with the old and kid,” she lamented.
President Barrow told them that a technical school is already being constructed in Somita and the OMVG hydropower substations in both Soma and Kanfenda already covers Foni. “It will be the basis of agricultural industrialization in the peri-urban areas with each covering a 100km radius. Water supply will soon be at each of your doorsteps. Your days of crying for such basic needs are almost over,” he said.
He said agriculture is Gambia’s lifeblood, saying the government will deploy machinery as part of the mechaisation policy.
“The government is seeking to empower Foni through agricultural production. You are hardworking people and very industrious,” agriculture Minister, Amie Fabureh said. She added that marketing schemes are still being reviewed to make it both effective ad profitable for farmers.
The President began the second leg of the ongoing tour in Foni with a site visit to a mix-farming center in the community of Kampant. The two-hectare garden largely produces baby corn –cornlets- among other horticultural crops. The corn variety is highly commercial, yielding a revenue of up to D1.77 million for the 444 members of the garden society.
The variety is harvestable up eight times in a season. The scheme, established in 2014, is supported by funding from the GICAF project and the World Bank. The community also partners with the Radville Farms to add value to the corns.
The President and delegation were taken on a conducted tour of the garden by the members of the garden committee. He was informed that the scheme provides income for the farmers and provide nutritional and social support to their families.