Often, it is said – and rightly so – that Agriculture is the backbone of the Gambian economy. Agriculture employs the largest percentage of the people of The Gambia as most people are engaged in the cultivation of various crops on which they depend. Groundnut is the largest of those products and thus one can say it is our main cash crop.
Over the years the buying of these nuts – or the lack thereof – has been the main cry of most, if not all, of the farmers in the country. It is common to hear that farmers have taken their nuts to the ‘seccos’ (buying points) but that there is no money so they are bought on credit.
This year, the same has been experienced, prompting some farmers to go to private dealers to sell their nuts; or, cross the border to Senegal to sell. This has been frowned upon by many and there has been a lot of talk about it in the country. Solutions were therefore sought by all and sundry.
In the last week or so, information emanating from the Office of the President has it that the president has directed the Central Bank of The Gambia to disburse an amount of three hundred and ninety-six million dalasi for the purchase of the nuts produced by the farmers.
First, they will settle the farmers who sold their nuts on credit basis and then purchase the rest on cash. It is estimated that this year 2019, thirty-five thousand metric tonnes of nuts will be bought from the various buying points in the country. This is expected to generate revenue for the government.
But most importantly, it will relieve the farmers who were worried that their nuts may not be bought or that it would take months before they receive their money. The farmers have only this season to make money and therefore government(s) should always endeavor to ensure that they are paid well, and on time.