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Police arrest 3 groundnut buyers over fake bank notes

Police arrest 3 groundnut buyers over fake bank notes

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By Omar Bah

Police have confirmed the arrest of four persons for allegedly paying farmers with counterfeit Gambian currency notes worth at least D100,000.

The three men arrested in the North Bank Region have been identified as the president, secretary and supplier of the Minteh Kunda groundnut buying secco.

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At least eight farmers have complained to the police of being paid fake notes.

The deputy spokesman of the Gambia police, Inspector Alieu Jamanka, told The Standard yesterday that the three are helping the police in their investigation. “I can confirm to you that the Minteh Kunda secco president, his secretary and the person who supplied the money are being detained pending police investigation.”

When contacted for comments, the managing director of the Gambia Food, Processing and Marketing Corporation, Muhammed Njie, said his office has learned about the issue but it didn’t have the full details.

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“I heard about it but I don’t have any information,” Njie told The Standard.

Challenges

However, earlier commenting on the challenges of this year’s peanut season, MD Njie said the absence of “Chinese investors” in the groundnut market “this year” has been “a nightmare” for the government.

“The Chinese have over one million tonnes of peanuts in stock this year. That is why they are not in the market which means the government is the only buyer.  This is a regional challenge which is not limited to The Gambia and it has created a nightmare in meeting the demands in the country despite the fact that the bank [Agib] has been delivering money to the cooperatives every week,” Njie told The Standard.

He said the problem has been exacerbated by the GGC receiving more than the volume of nuts targeted. “But we are doing everything possible to ensure we pay everybody. I solicit the understanding of the farmers as we try to overcome these difficulties,” Njie said.

Njie said his office has learned “important lessons” this trading year.

He disclosed that the corporation has engaged an American consultancy firm to do a feasibility study for a cooking oil refining plant in The Gambia. “The document is out and the investment cost of that plant is about US$10.4 million. The study shows that it is viable and the next point is to secure the funding and implement it. We are engaging private companies to get it done,” he explained.

He said the government has bought over 30,000 metric tonnes this year compared to the 7,200 tonnes in 2020 and 2,200 in 2019. 

“We may even surpass the 30,000 tonnes and go up to 40,000 tonnes. This manifested that farmers are going back to the farm. I would like to thank the government and ministry of finance through my line ministry for giving us the necessary funding,” Njie said.

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