Dear compatriots, my fellow young people, be you Gambian or non-Gambian resident in The Gambia and those living in the diaspora, Happy International Youth Day.
August 12th, was designated by the United Nations as International Youth Day to be celebrated by all United Nations members States.
It is a day to recognize the potentials and talents of young people as a nonhomogeneous group that has a significant role to play in the socio-economic and political development of any society and country.
It also avails us an opportunity to highlight the major issues, including cultural, legal, economic etc, that confront youths, with an aim to bring them to the attention of communities, government and international agencies as a reminder and a call for greater action to address those plights.
Dear viewers, the theme of IYD 2021 is; “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health”. This theme is chosen with the aim of highlighting the fact that global efforts to address food system and planetary health will not be achieved without the meaningful inclusion and participation of young people.
The theme for this year commemoration “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health” is definitely apt. There is a high need for the youth folk to galvanize efforts in making sure that they fight against hunger as well as create a healthy universe.
With the world’s population expected to increase by 2 billion people in the next 30 years, it has been recognized by numerous stakeholders that; producing a larger volume of healthier food is more sustainable and will ensure human wellbeing. Other crucial challenges, such as the interlinkages embodied by the 2030 Agenda including poverty reduction; social inclusion; health care; biodiversity conservation; and climate change mitigation must also be addressed.
Committed to seeing that the young people are engaged in food self-sufficiency programs, the Government of the Gambia through the ministry of youth and sports and it development partners is making great impact at the Chamen Agricultural Centre (known as Gambia Songhai Initiative). This is a project that serves as a training ground for many young farmers. Today, we can proudly say that many youths are involved in agriculture because of this wonderful initiative.
I must use this opportunity to call on youths to take up farming as it can be a lucrative business – those interested can be assured of government’s support at all times.
The National Youth Council and NEDI, two satellite institutions under the Ministry are part of the steering committee of the ROOTS Project of the Ministry of Agriculture.
This project is specifically designed to help young farmers in the Gambia. Unlike other projects, ROOTS will provide grants up to 10 million Dalasis to aspiring young farmers who meet the requirements.
The government is aware of the fact that most of our young farmers are financially challenged, thus the more reasons why projects like ROOTS are conceptualized and funding secured to provide assistance.
This year’s celebration came at a time when the world is battling with the corona pandemic that has thrown the world into chaos.
Therefore, we need to reaffirm our commitment to take all precautionary measures including getting ourselves vaccinated in order to protect ourselves, our families and the people we work with.
Vaccination is the surest way to creating a world free from this pandemic. The Ministry of youth and sports and by extension, the government is aware of the negative effects of Covid-19 on youth population and their welfare and advancement.
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, we must never lose hope because we have a government that cares and has helped so many families including youths during these difficult times through cash transfer and food relief aid.
This was done to make sure the population does not go hungry.
We must not lose hope because while we battle the COVID impact in the last 18 months, we have registered some recognizable achievements in the youth sector, among which is the university graduating hundreds of students and the Ministry of Higher Education, Research Science and Technology awarding dozens of scholarships to Gambian students to pursue higher education at both the UTG and foreign universities.
The government through the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare and that of Youth and Sports have launched the Women Entrepreneurship Fund and Youth Revolving Loan and Grant Scheme – all aimed at supporting young women and men to engaged or improve their businesses.
We must not lose hope because The Gambia has qualified for the African Cup of Nations football tournament, and did well in several other international sporting competitions. Our Gina Bass and other athletes just returned from the Olympic Games where they did exceptionally well.
These, among many others are youth development strides that we must celebrate and use it as an inspiration for a better future.
Fellow young people, in few months, we will begin the election circle in The Gambia, and as it draws nearer, it is important for youths to be reminded to engage in decent and progressive politics. As Gambians, we have always been known to be peaceful.
We therefore, must always avoid violence, be advocates of peace and ensure that our communities and country remain peaceful and secure before, during and after election.
The National Youth Council and other youth organizations supported by the UNFPA and broader UN agencies through the Peace Building Project are engaged in raising awareness on the need for peaceful coexistence throughout the Gambia.
The government of the Gambia remained committed in the course of the youth and the Ministry will continue to engage you through the National Youth Council, National Sports Council, NEDI and the NYSS in a bit to empower and provide you with employability skills and promote sports developmth.
All we ask from you – the youths is that you redouble your efforts, be hardworking, avoid engaging in illegal acts, seek education and skills in order to excel as citizens.
To conclude, on behalf of the President H.E Adama Barrow, the entire Government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports, I wish all the youths a happy International Youth Day.
Thank you, Thank You for your kind attention!!