A Stakeholder workshop involving key partners in groundnut trade in The Gambia have been held in Jenoi, Jarra West, from October 25 to 27 to discuss challenges and way forward in the trade of the cash crop.
However, the proposed dialogue went without the participation of a major partner, the then Gambia Groundnut Cooperation and now National Food Security Processing and Marketing Corporation.
The three-day workshop was meant to facilitate discussions, ahead of the groundnut trade season, on the challenges confronting the marketing of groundnuts and groundnut by-products and how to maintain quality within the various stages of the groundnut value-chain.
Organisers and participants have expressed to The Standard their dissatisfaction over the absence of the National Food Security Processing and Marketing Corporation’s.
“We are all worried about the National Food Security Processing and Marketing Corporation’s absence because it means the most important party in the groundnut trade did not attend,” Abdoulie Khan, executive secretary, Agribusiness Services and Producers Association (ASPA), told The Standard.
“This is the second time the GGC (NFSPMC) did not attend this meeting.”
The GGC, now NFSPMC, is a state institution that buys groundnuts from farmers through the various presidents of Seccos (groundnut selling points) to whom they give money at the beginning of every trading season.
But The Standard has been informed that the National Food Security Processing and Marketing Corporation have problems with some Secco presidents whom they said have owed them a colossal amount of money from the past groundnut trading seasons which has not been paid.
A president of the Kundam secco (groundnut selling points), Musa Jawo, has told The Standard that he has been approached by officials from the Sheriff Division at Jenoi on October 27 who informed him of the amount he owed the NFSPMC but claimed he does not know how he owed the amount.
“They (Sheriff Division) said I have owed GGC (NFSPMC) an amount of 415 thousand Dalasi that has to be paid or I might spend 10 years at McCarthy prison in Janjanbureh,” Jawo said.
“They said I should go to the GGC (NFSPMC) on Thursday, October 29. I don’t know how I have owed the amount.”
However, this paper has been informed that out of 69 heads of different Seccos (groundnut selling points), 4 owe the national groundnut buyer out of which only one was present at the stakeholder workshop.
One of the attendees of the workshop who is also a CPMS president said the intention of having a dialogue between the farmers and the GGC (NFSPMC) has fallen far short with the absence of a representative from the institution.
“There are outstanding problems between the GGC and the presidents of some Seccos but they are not here for us to discuss them,” a president whose names we are not revealing said.
“Their presence here would have made a difference because it would help to reconcile our differences.”
Various presidents who spoke to The Standard have also said there is a difference in the scales that they are using at their groundnut selling points and the one that the “GGC uses at Deppo”, which they claimed causes “huge variance in scale”.
The presidents have even put in their recommendations following the end of the workshop efforts aim at reconciling the weighing scale that the national institution uses to the ones at their Seccos.
Several phone calls to get the reaction of the national groundnut buyers on the story proved unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, during the opening of the workshop the farmers were given advice on how they could keep their groundnuts save from Aflatoxin.
Lamin Jaiteh from Gambia Food Safety and Quality Authority have exposed farmers to the know-hows of keeping groundnuts free from the disease arguing that their “groundnuts will not have market if the quality is not good”.
“Aflatoxin in groundnuts is major problem in the country,” he said.
“In fact a good amount of groundnuts that are exported from the country are used as bird feeds because of Aflatoxin.”
But Abdoulie Khan challenged the Food Safety and Quality Authority to carry out their health scrutiny on all people involved in the entire groundnut value-chain.
“Groundnuts can have Aflatoxin from nut just at the farms but also at the deppo or on a truck to the deppo and even in the ships,” he said.
“So it is necessary that all people involved in the entire value-chain are aware of the safety quality control issues.”
Yahya Jarjusey, the chief of Jarra West, has asked the president to form a committee and come together which, he added, will help boost their economic capacity and increase their bargaining power.
The presidents have also asked for the groundnut season to start on the first Monday of December saying “otherwise people who have waited for long will take their nuts to Senegal and sell them there”.
They also asked for a faster transportation mechanism when their nuts are being moved from their various seccos to the national groundnut buyer’s Deppo.
The workshop was attended by 61 out of 69 heads of different Seccos (groundnut selling points) all over the country, Ministry of Trade, Agribusiness Services and Producers Association (ASPA), Governor Salifu Puye, among others.
The workshop was funded under the Sector Competitiveness and Export Diversification Project (SCEDP) which aims at responding to some of the trade related development priorities identified in the Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS).
Thus it hopes to provide agric-sector specific support for cashew nuts, groundnuts and sesame through finding new export opportunities and product diversification.