By Ousman A. Marong
The Director of Department of Livestock, Dr Abdou Ceesay, has disclosed that the Gambia’s livestock sub-sector contributes 7 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Speaking on Saturday during the teaser ram show held at the Senegambia Beach Hotel junction in Kololi, Mr. Ceesay said the show has demonstrated the significant role that the livestock sub-sector contributes to the country’s socio-economic development.
“The livestock sub-sector contributes 7% to the national GDP and approximately 30% to the agricultural GDP. It also enhances food security to household level and the socio-economic upliftment of the people. It helps in creating jobs especially among the youths and women,” he remarked. He added that it is also a source of protein. However, he said there were some challenges in the sector, which he said included the fact that the production system in this country continued to be dominated by traditional practices with little use of improved management practices. Under this system, he said, productivity continued to be low hence the reliance on imports to satisfy the increasing demand for livestock products.
Mr. Ceesay further stated that another factor which was a challenge to the low level of sheep contribution to the country’s socio-economic development include the low participation of the private sector. He said disease was also another challenge to livestock production, especially small ruminants. He however revealed that the government had policies that aim to transform the livestock sub-sector in order to make it contribute more significantly to the country’s GDP.
“It also aims to increase on a sustainable basis the production and productivity of the breeds that we continue to work in enhancing private sector participation and investment in the livestock sub-sector,” he concluded.
On his part, the president of the Gam-Sheep Breeders Association, Ebrima E.J Jallow said over 90% of the sheep and goats consumed in the country were being imported from the neighbouring countries. “It breaks our hearts seeing the amount of wealth that is being spent on importing these ruminants from our neighbouring countries especially during Tobaski, thus helping to create jobs for their citizens and helping strengthen their economies while depriving our citizens, especially the youths, the needed jobs and at the same time leaving us with a weaker currency and economy,” he lamented.
He said as believers in the National Development Plan (NDP)– this and other issues prompted the breeders to invest in small ruminant production in order to minimise their importation while creating jobs for the youths and women. He appealed to the private sector, NGOs and private individuals to consider investing in small ruminant farming as it is a productive sector and a source of income for the youth.
“We are pleased to inform you that the breeders in this country have found a solution to our problem. As you all witness today, we will be showcasing a bit of our work as a teaser ram show for the upcoming ram show in Abuko from the 18th to 21st February 2021.”
The Secretary-General of the National Livestock Associations, Modou Sowe, highlighted the government’s commitment to supporting crop production. “We have seen the government giving the crop farmers seeds, we have also seen them giving fertilisers, but let’s ask ourselves what have they done for us? When you look at the ongoing presidential tour, most of his speeches are on crop production, but where is livestock?” he asked. He stressed that if they had their own ministry responsible for animal husbandry that would have given them the maximum support and focus on livestock production to help develop the economic.