By Omar Bah
The managing director of the National Food Security Processing and Marketing Corporation, formerly called Gambia Groundnut Corporation, has for the first time spoken on the new and controversial D2500 fertiliser price.
The GGC sparked controversy last week when it announced a bag of fertiliser will cost farmers D2500 from D700 last year.
According the GGC MD, Muhammed Njie, it is important to clarify especially because some people are using it to score political points.
“We all know what is happening in the world right now. If you remember a few months ago, there was this big vessel that got stuck at the Suez Canal, the route used by many vessels to supply containers and other materials to other countries. That affected the whole world and after that, the pandemic also came which led to the increment in prices,” Njie said.
Unfortunately, Njie added, the war in Ukraine also worsened the situation and “we all know the Gambia doesn’t manufacture fertiliser”. He said though some African countries like Nigeria and Morocco are manufacturing fertiliser the raw materials come from Russia which is at war and under sanctions.
He said that is why Nigeria has not been able to produce fertiliser because they could not get raw materials from Russia.
“I watched the Nigerian Finance Minister telling Aljazeera his country is struggling to manufacture fertiliser because they don’t have the raw materials and just last week, I went to Morocco to visit a big fertiliser manufacturing company, OCP, but they are also struggling to get the raw materials. So this is not only affecting The Gambia,” Njie said.
He said the government has made comparisons in Gambia’s neighbouring countries and they have realised that the Gambia has the cheapest price.
“When we compared our price with the regional prices, we realised that we have the cheapest price because our neighbours, Senegal is selling their fertiliser at D3000 plus. We were also supposed to sell it for the same price but the government subsidises up to D1000 or more,” he noted.
“We know it is hard but it doesn’t only affect the Gambia but the whole world. It is not the wish of the government to sell expensive fertiliser to our farmers. It is just that we don’t have a choice.”
The government, Njie added, is doing everything humanly possible to ensure that they solve the problem in one way or the other.
He said the government is able to sell at this price because they bought their fertiliser well before the Ukraine war.
“But even that the prices were affected by the pandemic because there has been a significant increase in prices of container given the global chain. Even having a container is a problem, talk less of a vessel, so it has increased since last year but it is now even higher to the point that some countries like Senegal could not even have it,” he added.
He said the government is doing everything it could to bring the price down. “There are consultations going on as we speak,” he added.
Fertiliser selling points
MD Njie said the 85 seccos across the country will be responsible for selling the fertiliser this year because they don’t want to involve businesses in the sales this time.
“The farmers should know that this government has done a lot of good things for them so if this is happening, they should understand that there is a situation that government has no control over. I understand the frustration of farmers and the importance of agriculture but this government is committed to the plight of farmers,” Njie added.