By Adama Makasuba
The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) announced embarking on commercial agriculture project worth 125 million dollar that aims at ensuring food self-sufficiency in the country.
Speaking during a press briefing at the Defense Headquarters in Banjul, the army spokesman, Major Lamin K Sanyang said the military’s involvement in agricultural production is a part of its constitutional requirement.
The GAF agricultural project targets more than fifty thousand hectares of lands will be in both CRR North and South.
“The GAF concepts paper on the estimate cost of the agricultural project initially was Four Millions USA Dollars. However, the AGCO Group from South Africa which GAF is working with is talking about One Hundred and Twenty Five Million USA Dollars,” he said
The AGCO Corporation is an American Company with its regional headquarters in South Africa, and is a global leader in the design, manufacture, and distribution of agricultural equipment.
“What we are doing in CRR at the moment is to identified the lands and the company will come and do the mapping of the soils to indicate whether the lands in questions area arable for rice, millets among others,” he stated, saying that any youths employee in the project is been assured of a salary.
He said: “We are not only talking about human security which we are providing with, but we can extend our mandate to even provide food security. We’ve seen the number of projects that are coming and how many money has been injected into those projects in ensuring food security. However, with our organisation and our discipline and our focus I think we will do better in ensuring that the country is food self-sufficiency.”
Essa Tamba, director of Social Welfare of the GAF who double as the Focal Person of GAF agricultural project said the lands that they intended to do their projects are given to them by the communities. However, he was quick to add that they didn’t pay anything into those lands and that’s why they are involving them in the projects.
“30% of the workforce in any given community will come from the community themselves so that they will be able to know what is been produce from their farms. The Armed Forces are not going to hide anything from them. Therefore, the regional governor of CRR is working with those communities where we’re going to have our projects in order to have the documentation of those lands,” he noted, while emphasizing that the lands are not bought by GAF and that they still belong to the community.
Mr. Tamba indicated that they will be also focusing on animal husbandry, poultry among others. “We want to start with five million poultry birds which is in fact more than the population of the country. If the project is successful we don’t even need chickens importation in the country.”