By Makutu Manneh
The Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Mamat O. Cham, has said the Gambia Armed Forces has ventured into gardening to supplement the allocated budget given to them for the soldiers’ feeding.
“Most of the cash money we spend daily in the markets is now spent on these items to supplement the feeding and provide nutritious food for our soldiers,” he said.
Major General Cham made this remark at the Gambia Armed Forces Banjulinding Garden as the soldiers and their civilian partners made the first harvest of their pilot gardening project.
Twenty-six (26) soldiers with civilians who voluntarily joined the forces harvested garden eggs, okra, bitter tomato and tomato.
Major General Cham said the engagement of the forces into agriculture is also to build training skills for the soldiers so that when they finish their national service, they would have skills and techniques to contribute as ordinary citizens into meaningful agriculture for the feeding of themselves and their families as well as build the agricultural chain in the country.
The Deputy CDS was impressed with the harvest of the soldiers. He said it is a clear testimony that if they are given the support, GAF in line with its constitutional mandate to venture into productive activities such as agriculture, education, health and engineering will be able to take part in the socio-economic development of the country.
Deputy CDS Cham said the soldiers that took part in the pilot project will be sent back to their various units to replicate the activities learned. He believed that in the long run, GAF will be able to supplement its feeding and if a surplus is generated, they will be able to dispose of them through middle women to enhance their livelihood.
Cham said their next pilot project is to start a poultry project soon. He said the activity will not be labour intensive if they have the supporting equipment.
Major General Cham called on Gambians and organisations to support the Armed Forces to engage into activities within their constitutional mandate.
He thanked the defence ministry and the Chief of Defence Staff for encouraging them to engage in such activities.