By Omar Bah
The Standard has reliably learned that the bulk of groundnut harvested in The Gambia has been sold to operators from Senegal instead of the Gambia Food Marketing and Processing Corporation, formerly GGC.
According to our sources gleaned mostly from farmers and residents in rural Gambia, tons of groundnuts have been rolling over the border on a daily basis since the season started with some operators in Senegal raiding Gambian farmers with cash and fabulous prices better than those offered by the Gambian agency.
“These buyers from Senegal come with their own transport and better prices up to the Gambia. So farmers just sell off their nuts without even thinking because they get money and no hassle at all,” a school teacher in Sanjal told The Standard on phone.
In Wuli, a secco manager told The Standard that though there are no problems of cash to buy groundnuts this season, the price offered by the cross border buyers from Senegal is far better.
“Many secco managers still have lot of money but there is hardly any nut to buy in The Gambia currently,” an official of the former GGC told The Standard.
The president of Fass Omar Saho groundnut secco, Muhammed Jah said he couldn’t buy a single ton out of the money disbursed to him, enough to buy 50 tons. This, he said, is because the government is offering D18, 000 per ton whiles the petty traders from Senegal were buying a ton for D25, 000.
“I had plenty of cash but could only buy 16 tons which by farthe lowest tonnage I get compared to past years when I could buy 1000 tons a season,” Jah said .
“But we cannot blame the government or the farmers too because it has to do with the free market competition. Senegalese petty traders will come to your doorstep and buy your groundnut from you. I had told the Groundnut authorities well before the season started that they will have to increase their prices to D25, 000 to keep all the nuts in The Gambia. But look now there is no Secco in North Bank that has managed to buy more than 30 tons. The government should stop imposing prices on the farmers,” he added.
Jah also criticised his fellow secco managers for sabotaging the GGC. He did not explain how.
Sulayman Bah, a famous farmer at Kerr Dekodeh, said: “It is not our wish to sell our groundnut to Senegal but the price is far better and irresistible.
“I want to urge the government to increase the price just like how they are increasing taxes every now and then. They cannot continue playing lip-service to the plight of the farmers,” he said.
GGC boss sacked
Meanwhile, The Standard has been reliably informed that the managing director of the Gambia Food processing and Marketing Corporation, Tony Carvalho has been sacked.
Mr Carvalho is replaced by one Muhammed Njie, a former staff of the World Food Programme.