Gambia’s Agriculture Minister, Omar Jallow, has defended the government’s decision to lift a restriction on the importation of potatoes, onions and minor tax cuts on flour.
President Adama Barrow lifted restrictions on the importation of onions and potatoes but critics said his decision will affect local producers who are already struggling to market their produces.
Omar Jallow, who has served in the former PPP government, said it is wrong for the government to ban the importation of agricultural produces at a time the local producers can’t fulfill the market’s demands.
“… What we ought to do, in my opinion, is to support our indigenes to grow until we are sure they can fulfill the market demands, then we ban but not the other way round. Senegal did that in the area of egg importation,” Jallow said.
The minister fears that banning import when local producers cannot meet demand needs will lead to scarcity, price upshoot and illegally importation.
“We can protect our producers but not by banning. We can increase taxes on imported goods. The recent move should bring down the prices,” Jallow says.
Jallow has left Gambia with country’s fisheries minister, James Gomez on Sunday to Turkey to attend an agricultural forum organized by Ankara with African ministers.
The Gambia is return agriculture to commercialize status but its vulnerability to climate change has posed challenges.
The country is looking to invest in whole value chain from production to marketing to add value on whatever we produce, says Jallow.