Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Gambia Should Reduce Import Bills, Use the Dalasi to Import Cars- Banky Njie

Banky Njie Nema Business Dev Officer
“We have the land – about 60 percent of our land is underutilized, we have the people resources. Now, with the number of different projects – we also have the investments, whether its Nema’a asset financing scheme, or FASDEP’s version, or Reliance standalone “Farming as a Business”.

“So the opportunities are here to transform our activities to increase production, not only to feed ourselves, but also feed the world. We should have a vision to emulate our president and heed to his clarion call – ‘eat what we grow and grow what we eat’. We should then be able to reduce our import bills and use the hard currency to import that which we cannot produce – like cars…yet!! We cannot talk about our dignity if we don’t have the ability to feed ourselves.

“Let us all believe and have a sense of pride in what we produce and get out of our mindsets that anything imported, especially from the West, is better,” said Banky Njie Business Development Officer for the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD financed project in The Gambia the National Agricultural Land and Water Management Development Project (Nema)

Nema Business Development Officer was delivering a statement on the closing of the 4 day Entrepreneurship training to smallholder producers & actors in the rice & vegetable value chains at Jenoi, Thursday 13th March 2014.

Hear Him: “On behalf of my project director and entire staff of Nema, I wish to congratulate you all for embarking on such an important task, which when you look back in years to come, you will appreciate how useful your attendance has been in this 4 very interesting and participatory days.
“I have no doubt that by your conduct and my observations, some, if not most of you will come out of here as very successful business men and women. I am very pleased at the turnout, especially the women and youth, who are our main target groups.”

This event, he said has brought together about 80 applicants of Nema’s Capital Investment Stimulation Fund (CISF), in 2 separate batches, to provide basic business knowledge and skills to equip them to understand the elements and processes in running a successful business.

IFAD and The Gambia government, Njie added has seen it necessary to support financing opportunities that has long been lacking for the smallholder producers through the tripartite matching grant.
“As participants of this very useful training, you had the opportunity to reflect upon the important role that business development can play in enhancing smallholder farmers’/producers entrepreneurship skills to you to integrate yourselves into the value chain.”

However, it has also provided an opportunity to share your experiences and learn how successful enterprises can transform smallholder agriculture into profitable businesses that can contribute to generating employment and the creation of wealth, thereby reducing poverty. It is highly expected that this Entrepreneurship training has provided you with the pre-requisite business knowledge and skills for a better understanding in preparing for your business and its operation.

“If Africa can redirect and invest (only a fraction of its $40 billion dollars food importation bill), in the production of the food she consumes, we will begin to realise how we can transform our lives and become drivers of our own destiny, without depending on food aid.”

He continued, “If we are confident that with Nema’s CISF support for better irrigation systems, farming equipments, cold storage facilities, refrigerated trucks, threshing and milling machines, etc, coupled with the projects’ other interventions of improving the infrastructure- building access roads, creating market access and women’s land rights could mean a brighter future for you and the nation as a whole.”

According to Njie, agriculture is the issue of our time, with about 70% of our people depending on agriculture for a living disclosing that the African Union has declared 2014 as the “Year of Agriculture and Food Security” and so it is therefore very important that we embark on a crusade to respond to this declaration.

“I am therefore confident that this business training just ended, will prepare you for this crusade of commercialising your activities to feed yourselves, our nation and the world,” he added “I would like to thank Concern Universal through the master trainer and his team for their professionalism and delivery of this training. It has been very interactive and interesting and I myself have also learnt a lot,” he concluded.

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