The Gambian army has announced that it will from now on engage in farming activities, Freedom Newspaper can reveal. The announcement was made today at a news conference in Banjul by the army spokesman Major Lamin Sanyang.
Sanyang says a special battalion would be created to engage in farming. The project intends to employ over one thousand Gambian youths, he says.
Major Sanyang took a swipe at the army’s critics, during his address. He said that folks trafficking information that the proposed multi-million dalasis agricultural project should be scrapped, do not know what they are talking about. He defended the importance of the project.
Sanyang says such detractors will not sway the army from its set goal—that is to make The Gambia a food sufficient nation. He called on citizens to support the army in its drive to realize its set agricultural ambition for the tiny West African nation.
He said the government spends millions of dalasis yearly on purchasing rice, meat, fish and oil, to feed the army. He added that, that money can be used on other projects of national development once the army agricultural project kicks off.
Sanyang said the army’s farmlands would be located in the upcountry. The army has already identified some regions in the upcountry, in which it intends to operate some farmlands, he says. The Idea behind such a move, he says, was to discourage rural/urban migration.
He says The Gambian army is partnering with a South African American agricultural company to introduce the project in The Gambia. The army, he says, has the support of President Adama Barrow. He also said thanks to the dynamic leadership of CDS Masaneh Kinteh, such an important project, has been introduced into The Gambia armed forces.
He says the army will continue to remain apolitical in the due execution of its duties to the nation. Sanyang also said the 1997 Gambian constitution has okayed the army to engage in such agricultural ventures. He began his speech by giving a perspective about the history of Gambia’s armed forces—dating colonial days.
Colonel Essa Tamba has been asked to lead the army agricultural unit—the first of its kind in the nation’s history. Tamba, in his speech, has expressed optimism that the proposed project, will no doubt help to make the impoverished nation of The Gambia food sufficient. He says if all plans went well, The Gambia will stop importing rice in the next three years.
Tamba also asked the media to serve as judge between the army and some “misguided” folks, who are questioning the legality of such a venture. He says as rightly pointed out by the army spokesman Major Lamin K Sanyang, the army will not engage into any venture that is illegal. He added that all patriotic and developmental oriented loving Gambians should embrace and applaud such a laudable project.
During dictator Jammeh’s rule, civil servants, soldiers, policemen and other security agencies, used to work on his farmlands for free. One risked being fired if he or she fails to show up at Jammeh’s farms during such farming activities.