Gaston Mendy: Farmers must form associations to confront government for support
Updated: Jul 28, 2020
Monday 27 July | Yero S. Bah
Gambian farmers countrywide have similar challenges such as lack of financial support, poor agricultural infrastructures and poor quality seedlings; this has significantly impacted negatively on the sector as it has totally discouraged people from venturing into farming in both rural and urban Gambia.
But for Mr. Gaston Mendy the above challenges are not deterring him from venturing into agriculture as he operates a farm and hired several young people who run the farm in Farato village in Kombo South, West Coast Region. He said that, as a Gambian based in Sweden with little cash, he could help create employment for other youth back home through gardening saying he wants to help in developing the country through agriculture and gardening in particular. “Later on I thought about adding both livestock and poultry because the kids I work with were so ready to work.”
The certified nursing assistant noted that, he never thought that their agricultural venture would get to where they are today adding that the popularity of their project is overwhelming as people keep placing orders for vegetables and other food stuffs from around the world through their Facebook page and they deliver it for free saying it is now a fully registered business under the name “Mamton Ndugali Services” and that he funded everything.
Part of the vegetable crops they grow are cucumber, okra, tomatoes and garden eggs adding that in this rainy season, they went in for corn, watermelon and groundnuts in a seven hectare farm as part of their expansion in the farming business saying ‘we want to engage in free poultry farming too since it is encouraging and healthy for human consumption. “I will say that, I was not born in Africa but Africa was born in me.”
The Sweden-based Gambian believes that, he must help his country and one way of doing that is to render support to the youth and women working in his farm in Farato explaining that he needs to be their voices saying without agriculture there cannot be any meaningful development. “Coming from Europe and youth seeing me tilling the soil will inspire lots of them to get into agriculture.”
He continued that, he is optimistic that progress is ahead in farming in the Gambia since most of the youth are interested in it now saying he hopes to see government and NGOs step in to render support to the youth especially those in agriculture noting that he can see the passion about agriculture among the youth in recent times.
On marketing, Mr. Mendy said that, they use Facebook as well as on-the-spot to market their products adding that customer satisfaction is their priority. Mendy sees his failures as learning points saying as a farmer you learn and without taking risk one will never learn neither succeeds in any adventure.
However, the Euro-Afro-farmer believes that, Gambian farmers need to form solid associations to be able to confront or engage government for support saying there are lots of projects meant for farmers and youth who are into agriculture but the government might find it harder to support every farmer with the current situation of scattered farmers countrywide. “We are already working on one of the associations.”
He charged another solution to the challenges faced by farmers in the Gambia, is government need to make land available tofarmers either through loan or other alternatives reasoning that agriculture is a national issue arguing that if Gambians want to reduce importation of food products thereby achieving total independence then there should be enough land for farmers and he believes it is only government that can help farmers with that.
The psychiatrist believes that, the coronavirus presented a perfect example that countries need to produce enough for themreasoning that global economies are shrinking including Europe. He explained that, he started his farming activities with a little cash noting that one need not to wait for huge capital to start a business.
“His advice to youth, there is no government that provides everything on earth for its citizens. We are the government and we can develop our sweet Gambia if we are together.” were his final words to Gambians.