By Fatou Saho
Following the disbursement of a whopping D500 million to settle the debt it owed them, groundnut farmers have expressed delight over the settling of their arrears and commended the Gambia government under President Adama Barrow for demonstrating leadership.
For the past months, farmers have lamented the lack of money at groundnut selling points and demanding a swift remedy. Last week, the government announced the disbursement of D500 million to settle all monies it owed farmers who sold their groundnuts to the National Food Security Processing and Marketing Corporation, formerly GGC.
The relief on the faces of farmers in Foni Bintang as Agib commenced the payment on Tuesday was palpable.
Dawda Kuyateh of Iliassa village, who harvested over 200 bags and has been farming all his life, said: “We are very happy that the money has finally come. I think the problem is that our groundnut price is very good compared to our neighbours, and because of that, before we even finished harvesting, the Senegalese rushed to sell their groundnut in Iliassa and went home with the first disbursement of funds.”
He commended the government for being responsive to the needs of farmers, especially with the massive subsidy of fertiliser last year, and for buying groundnut at a very good price. He urged his fellow farmers to sell all their groundnuts to the GGC.
The Iliassa secco president, Lamin Jadama, said he has received disbursement from Agib at least ten times since the groundnut trade began.
“Today alone, I received D5 million, but I am not sure it will be enough because we need at least close to D6 million,” he said.
Jadama said the Barrow administration should be commended for its strong commitment to the plight of Gambian farmers.
Karamo Dampha of Noo Kunda said he is very happy that the government has disbursed funds to seccos to settle all the debt it owes to farmers.
“We were a little skeptical, but when we heard that the government was going to pay all the balance it owed farmers, we were very happy. The government should also be commended for giving farmers the best price ever,” he stated.
Sanna Dampha, Noo Kunda secco president, said the D2 million disbursed to his secco has covered all the monies it owed farmers.
Bading Minteh of Minteh Kunda commended the government for the swift response and urged them to increase their support for farmers. He said farmers are very happy with this year’s price.
“Even with the smallest groundnut, you can get a lot of money, and we have the best price compared to Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, and Guinea Conakry,” he said.
Tombong Jaiteh of Njaba Kunda said the disbursement could not have come at a better time.
“We are still urging the government to do more, especially in the area of fertiliser,” he said.
The Njaba Kunda secco president, Karamo Jaiteh, said the D2 million he received will cover all the debt the secco owed farmers and even buy more.
“We want to thank the government for responding swiftly. We could not have asked for more,” he said.
Buramanding Ceesay, the Salikenni secco president, said the money he received will cover all his debt. He urged the government to do all it can to avoid owing farmers.
Ansumana Badjie, a 28-year-old farmer, said he was excited when he heard that the government was going to pay groundnut farmers whom they owe.
He said the government should release more funds to buy the remaining groundnuts.
Basiru Touray, 72, also a farmer from Bintang, was full of excitement when he received his payment for the 20 bags of peanuts he sold. He expressed his gratitude to the government.
The president of the Bintang secco, Nfansu Jamba, confirmed that they have paid off all their debt but still have more unpurchased groundnuts at their homes.
“We have over a hundred people who still have their groundnuts with them. We are pleading with the government to bring more money and buy those groundnuts,” he said.
In Kiang Genier, Kolior Bakary Sanneh, who is in his 70s, said he is happy that farmers whose groundnuts were bought on credit have received their money.
Matarr Touray of Medina Kaiaf welcomed the government’s swift reaction to address the issue of the farmers.
Lamin Mbara Ceesay, also from Kaiaf, said he is grateful and thankful he has received his payment for the two tons he sold.
Some other farmers told The Standard that the authorities should ensure that there is no repeat of the cash shortage that marred the beginning of the trade season.