Modou Lamin Manneh: Young Hotelier Turns Farmer in Kartong Village
Gambian youth are of recent embracing farming to support themselves and their families especially in these trying times of the coronavirus since the tourism sector has been largely devastated by the effects of the global pandemic.
Modou Lamin Manneh of Kartong is one of such young farmers tilling the soil to make a decent living through the cultivation of various agricultural products such as dwarf pawpaw, oranges, cassava and tomatoes. He is also into small poultry with over sixty birds at the moment saying he collects a crate and a half of eggs every two days.
For many Gambian youth traveling to the West is the ultimate goal but for Mr. Manneh leaving for Europe isn’t his priority at the moment, noting that his farming adventure is yielding fruits and is dedicated to it full time. The Post Graduate Diploma holder in Travel and Tourism said tourism and hospitality is fragile since it is one of the only the only profession or industry that can crash in a ‘minute’ due to natural or other phenomenon saying no one should depend entirely on the hospitality industry for a living. “Tourism and hospitality is like fire, it can cook your food perfectly if managed well but equally it could burn it badly if mismanaged.” he added.
He noted that, the fragility of the tourism sector could stem from numerous factors such as natural disasters or man-madecalamities, adding that it is a seasonal profession too especially in a country like the Gambia. “You can’t fully rely on tourism and hospitality alone.” Manneh stated.
He explained that, the above factors motivated him go into farming which he believes is sustainable and lucrative saying he is about to form an organization that would promote farming as a business. As for him, working for the Kartong Association for Responsible Tourism created market linkages as he uses such platforms to market his farming ideas as well as produce since (KART) is responsible for the implementation of projects on behalf of the National Tourism Board in local communities and all the tourism sites in Kombo South and North.
Despite his connections, he noted that, the marketing of produce or products is still a major challenge for Gambian farmers particularly young Agroproneurs, adding that one of his target in the future is to go into the rearing of ruminants such as goats and sheep as he is in consultations with the Department of Agriculture on that front.
Since land and capital are also grave hurdles for many Gambian business starters, for Modou Lamin Manneh, he used his own allowances to start his farming adventure besides land is never an issue for him since his family has plenty of it in Kartong village.
He called on youth to go into farming as he believes that the ‘slogan grow what you eat and eat what you grow’ is real and encourages youth to be engage before they become liabilities for their families.