By Omar Bah
The director general of the Gambia Food, Processing and Marketing Corporation, formerly called GGC, Mohamadou Njie, has confirmed reports of armed robbers attacking a ‘secco’ in Niumi but said the amount reported [D700, 000] is exaggerated.
Local media reported yesterday that “unidentified” armed robbers allegedly attacked a “secco” in Ndemba Kunda, Upper Niumi and went away with D700, 000.
But speaking to The Standard, DG Njie said: “The reported D700, 000 was actually the whole money the bank took to the secco but they have started spending most of it. So I think what the robbers took is not significant enough. I don’t want to comment on the numbers because the police are investigating but it is not as it is reported by some of the media houses.
“And I want to make it emphatically clear that the stolen money is entirely Agib’s [bank] responsibility to recover, so for us that risk is not there. However, it is an eye opener and we will discuss with the bank and see how best we can provide them with security,” he said.
Commenting on this year’s groundnut season, DG Njie said: “We have already disbursed about D159M compared to the D200M spent the whole of last year and the season has not even started.”
This year’s groundnut season, he added, has been “a success for us in the sense that the amount of peanuts we received to date is almost 80% of what we received the entire season last year. Because the price is good, a lot of farmers are eager to come and sell to us and we are also getting information that Senegalese farmers are crossing over to sell their peanuts in The Gambia which is a plus to the GGC transition process.”
He said contrary to the controversy last year over the use of Agib for payments, farmers and secco managers are happy with the system now. “It has been a good year already except for the low quality of peanuts. I am also happy to announce that the fertilizer for next year’s rainy season arrived months ago,” he said.
Njie said his office has drawn lessons from troubles faced last year after people they contracted to sell the fertilizer reportedly sold part of it to Senegal.
“It was very disappointing to know that our own people (private traders) were abusing the system. This year we want to work hand-in-glove with the ministry of agriculture to make sure that the corporatives are well structured and empowered so that we can channel the fertilizers through them and reduce the number of private dealers that we are dealing with,” he said.
He said the ministry of agriculture is working on revitalizing the corporative. “There is already a Corporative Policy that the cabinet is working on and I am sure if that is fully functional, they will build the capacity of corporatives and we will have that confidence to start working with them directly,” Njie said.
Oil processing plant
DG Njie said the newly constructed state-of-the-art selling and crossing plant which has the capacity to decorticate 40, 000 tons of groundnut within three months is nearing completion.
“A visibility study has also been done for a refining plant and the outcome shows that it is a profitable one, so we are engaging some local partners we can work with to quickly set up this refining plant,” he said.