The just concluded groundnut trade season was a challenge for all stakeholders and lessons must be learned. As a stakeholder, I have observed over the past few years the difficulty faced by the National Food Security Processing & Marketing Corporation (NFSP&MC) in selling their groundnuts to the international market. Unfortunately this challenge can only be addressed by Government and not the NFSP&MC.
Traditionally, Gambia has for many years depended on the European market to export its nuts but with the passage of time, the EU market has through food safety regulations almost closed its doors. It has gotten to a point where due to aflotoxin related rules, our groundnut is only suitable for bird feed and even that is further scrutinized.
Faced with limited traditional markets, Governments in West Africa have been rushing to embrace the Chinese market but the Gambia Government has been extremely slow in putting in place the necessary protocols to have access to the Chinese market. We know for a fact that Senegal for example has such protocols in place and it has helped to position the city of Touba as a hub for groundnut exports from West Africa.
The Gambia Government must engage the Chinese authorities as a matter of urgency to enable Gambia agricultural produce, including fisheries to be exported direct to China instead of passing through third countries. In the absence of preferential access to the Chinese market where bigger producers like Brazil, Argentina, USA etc are all doing their utmost to be present for their agricultural produce, the NFSP&MC should not be expected to do miracles since the traditional market is almost nonexistent.
In the absence of access to market, the NFSP&MC will continue to have unsold stock which means limited funds leading to credit buying of farmer stock and all the associated challenges both for Government and farmers as was witnessed in the just concluded trade season.
Metty Trading Company Limited