In the past few days, the National Assembly Members have been scrutinizing the 2017 Budget Estimates. Although I’ve not seen and perused the whole budget estimate, I have seen that the budget of the Office of the President has been reduced by D158 million while the Ministry of Agriculture has been reduced by D3 million.
Mr President, the others like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs been cut by D10 million. I wish to raise concerns over the amount of money reduced from the Ministry of Agriculture. Agriculture is the backbone of our economy and majority of our citizens are engaged in agriculture. The advancement of agriculture translates into the advancement of the country.
Last week, while I was on a talkshow at Paradise FM Radio talking about the rainy season, some farmers called to express their desire to have assistance from the government. They said that as the last harvest was not good, they are even finding it difficult to buy rice at D1200 talk less of being able to buy a bag of groundnut seeds at D4000.00 with an additional D700 to be spent on fertilizer.
Naturally, if these farmers are not assisted by government, they will not be able to grow crops to the extent that will be beneficial to them and the country. The farmers are the ones who cultivate groundnuts, rice and other stuff that the Gambia exports in order for us to get foreign currency; but more importantly, it is the farmers who produce the food that we eat. As such, it is very important that we consider the farmers in the development agenda.
We commend the minister of finance and the National Assembly for a job well done. But we also call on them to even reduce more from the other ministries and the Office of the President but increase the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture.
We are calling on our youth to come home and stop the back way migration. In order to ensure that when they come home they stay, we need to provide them with jobs. The best way to do that [and the most feasible] is through agriculture. Let us invest in agriculture and education so that we will be able to stand on our own feet.
When we are able to do that then we can open ourselves to the rest of the world through foreign embassies. At the moment, we should think of reducing and/or amalgamating some of the embassies. That will cut cost. Use the money wisely for the priority areas.
It’s about austerity we say!
Tha Scribbler Bah
A Concerned Citizen