Gambians condemn their government’s ‘celebration’ of rice donation made by China

April 08, 2019 at 02:00 pm | News

Ismail Akwei

Ismail Akwei | Contributor

April 08, 2019 at 02:00 pm | News

Gambian president Adama Barrow (on the right) receiving the rice donation from the Chinese Ambassador at a ceremony in Banjul.

Rice is Gambia’s staple food for decades but the West African country struggles to produce a substantial amount of the food locally to feed the tiny country’s two million population.

Since 2017 when the Gambia and China restored diplomatic relations that were severed in 1995 due to the African country’s support of Taiwan, the Asian powerhouse has donated thousands of bags of rice to alleviate hunger in the country.

President Adama Barrow received on Friday 54,000 bags of rice which the Chinese government described as a humanitarian gesture. In 2017 alone, China donated over 100,000 bags of rice which were distributed to state agencies and the seven regions.

President Barrow, who presided over the handing-over ceremony of the rice, said the aid “will be greatly cherished by the vulnerable Gambians whose staple food is rice,” reports the presidency.

“For the Gambia to be successful in rice cultivation, self-sufficient in the production of the staple food, the country must learn from the People’s Republic of China,” he added while calling for support to grow rice domestically.

The Chinese Ambassador to The Gambia, M.A Jainchum assured Barrow that Chinese experts will arrive in the country in April to “train local agricultural technicians and provide certain agricultural machinery to The Gambia” as part of the promise made to Gambia after the resumption of bilateral ties.

Many African countries have lost their agricultural production base due to higher imports of foreign foods and poor financial support to the sector that’s slowing dying, if not dead.

Many Gambians have condemned the receipt and the event surrounding the donation which was participated by the president. Some used the presidency’s Facebook page to express their displeasure and propose ways the government could revive local production.

“Celebrating rice? Why can’t the government rehabilitate Jahala Patcharr project and works towards the country being self sufficient. Create opportunities and stop these dependencies,” says a Facebook user whose comment generated dozens of replies of support and disapproval.

“Hope the rice is not plastic rice rekk?,,, if no, then thank you Mr President but am not ok cause i don’t trust the Chinese and there things(food stuffs),,,, let nothing happen to our people deh Mr President, you are our President and you have to protect us, I think you know that right?” said another commenter against the receipt of the rice.

“We don’t want charity, we want experts to help and teach us how to fish ? in Agriculture and food science, we don’t want them to give us fish everyday,” another commenter added.

Others also hailed the gesture. “congratulation to the two governments do what is right and let them say what they want,” said a commenter while another said: “Thank you china government our government has appreciated your gift and our President Barrow will share it to those who needs it because all Gambian peoples cannot have it but those who suppose to have they will have their share . Thank you mr president all this is because of your good work and services to country.”

The state also responded to some of the condemnation confirming that the Chinese would bring in experts to help revive the local rice industry.

Here are some more comments posted on the presidency’s Facebook page:

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