By: Alieu Jallow
As the groundnut trade season approaches, Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Demba Sabally, stated in an exclusive interview with The Fatu Network that The Gambian government will purchase groundnuts from farmers at a competitive price that is reasonable within the sub-region.
“We will buy groundout at a reasonable and very competitive price within the sub-region”.
Last year Gambian farmers challenged the government to significantly raise the prices of groundnut to D80 per kilogram as a form of excess spending recovery on fertiliser.
Dr. Sabally emphasized the government’s commitment to stimulate agricultural growth. Over a billion dalasis was spent on fertilizer, which was partially subsidized for farmers. Additionally, the government helped farmers plow their land and provided access to fertilizer selling points.
“[The] government has subsided over D1200 per bag, that is why this year it was affordable and accessible,’’ Sabally said.
The price for a ton of groundnut set by the government last year was D24,000. However, many farmers were unhappy with this price and emphasized the need for significant improvement in the farming industry. When asked whether the government’s price was comparable to that of private investors, Hon. Sabally expressed that as Gambians, it is important to consider the collective interest of all, given the billions of dalasis invested in farmers.
“Where were they [private investors] when fertilizer was imported? Why are private dealers not importing fertilizer and then selling to farmers? We have spent billions in dalasis to be able to subside fertilizer, so if government spent all that money [and] you sell to a private dealer, I think that little un-Gambian’’.
He guaranteed that they will pay better than last year at a very reasonable price that will deter private investors but most importantly with a price that is competitive within the sub-region.
“We will try to get the trade started early than last year. The price is very likely going to be better than last year’s, and we won’t be buying on credit.
“GGC bought on cash last year and they will do what it takes so that farmers do not struggle to get their money and farmers do not struggle to travel long distance to sell their products,’’ he said.