By Tabora Bojang
Officials of the National Food Security Processing and Marketing Corporation, formerly Gambia Groundnut Corporation, last week informed members of the National Assembly committee on agriculture that Gambia does not have capacity to refine groundnut into consumable oil because there is no refinery at the corporation unlike the days of its predecessor company GPMB.
The officials were at the Assembly to respond to concerns of NAMs with regard to the ongoing groundnut season, sale of rice and recapitalisation.
Responding to how the GGC intends to use more than 25, 000 metric tons of groundnut it purchased from farmers this season, MD Muhammed Njie said the groundnut will be processed into different products and be exported.
The Foni Bintang NAM and committee vice chair, Amie Colley asked why are the products including groundnut oil not sold in the Gambian market instead of exporting them, but GGC deputy managing director Lamin Sanyang responded that the “oil that we are talking about is crude not refined [oil] because we are yet to have a refinery processing. It cannot be used for cooking. It has to be sold outside for those who have the facility to refine it into proper oil.”
Committee chairman Omar Darboe said there were suggestions that the locally produced oil is of quality and healthier, and asked why it is taken out when Gambians are more comfortable with it, but deputy MD Sanyang said those privileges existed during the GPMB era.
“I know you are recollecting the previous GPMB where you have that production facility where you can go and buy oil and use it. But that oil is different from the one that you are talking about. Then there was a refinery at the GPMB,” Sanyang stated.
Lower Saloum NAM Sainey Jawara wants clarification on allegations that groundnut products such as groundnut cake and oil are sold to Senegalese and Chinese investors at the expense of Gambians.
Clarifying these allegations, MD Muhammed Njie said: “Groundnut cake is sold to Senegal and Mauritania because Gambian farmers are not able to buy all of it”.
He added the GGC had identified a few key players doing poultry farming and gave them millions in credit to help them produce animal feed, “but as we speak, we are still recovering”.
The MD further said the corporation seeks outside markets for groundnut cake because Gambians do not buy much of it. “They buy only a few bags and with the groundnut cake if you don’t sell it quickly the quality drops and you lose a lot of money out of it. We are not stopping any Gambian from buying our products.”
MD Njie also confirmed that due to the issue of aflatoxin associated with Gambia groundnuts, they cannot sell in the European market which is why they resort to the Chinese market.
“We cannot sell to the European market. We have to sell to other markets and that is why our products are sold to other markets but we did not stop any Gambian from coming to buy our products.”
According to the officials, plans are underway to ensure that groundnuts exported from Gambian are classified under duty free status in China.