By Tabora Bojang
The Minister of Agriculture, Demba Sabally has assured farmers of best groundnut prices for this year’s farming season.
Tabling the revised 2022 budget before the National Assembly last month, finance minister Seedy Keita revealed that the groundnut subsidy for this year has been removed since groundnut prices are surging globally and therefore minimising the need for the subsidy on groundnut.
He called these as containment measures to uplift the economy after it suffered serious contractions with revenues and grants hitting a downward of over D 4 billion.
However, the removal of the groundnut subsidy is described as worrisome by farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural industry, who feared this year’s price will be relatively low compared to last year which saw the price at D22,000 per metric ton. But speaking to The Standard on these concerns, Minister Sabally vowed that farmers will get high prices for their groundnut sales even ‘without a government subsidy’ because there will be an uptrend in global groundnut prices.
“The purpose for subsidy is to get the best price for the farmers and if you listen to the minister’s speech, he said the subsidy is being removed because the price for groundnut in the world market has gone up very well. So, prices are still going to be good even without the subsidy. You subsidise when the world price is low so that farmers can get a good chunk but if the price has gone up to a level where we want it there will be no need for subsidy,” Sabally stated. Asked if the government conducted an assessment of global prices to ascertain these projections since global prices rise and fall irregularly and not unilaterally determined, the minister said the prices in the country will not be lower than those offered by our neighbouring countries in the region.“What I am saying is that groundnut prices in The Gambia are going to be comparable to the prices in the subregion with or without subsidy. We are going to be mindful of the farmers in Senegal or parts of the subregion and whatever prices obtain there, we are going to be competitive. Look, this government is very mindful of the role of farmers to the development of this country. We are not only talking about food security but food sovereignty. That means economic independence for our farmers. I can assure them that the government is very conscious of their plight and they will get the best price for their products.”
Asked who will determine the price and how much would be a ton, Minister Sabally replied that a team will be instituted including his Ministry, Gambia Groundnut Corporation and the Office of the President to determine the price “when the time comes.”