By: Kebba AF Touray
In an interview with this medium, farmers in the Upper River Region (URR), appealed to the Gambia Government to intervene and address the pest infestation they are confronted with, and to also increase the price of groundnuts in the 2022-2023 groundnut trade season. The also warned the government to ensure that their groundnuts are purchased within their various groundnut buying centres (Seccos).
According to the farmers, the recent pest infestation has resulted in the low quality of their groundnut produced and urged the government to put this into consideration and increase the price of groundnuts.
Matida Kijera of Banni village in Wuli West district said she decided to keep her nuts in anticipation that the government will provide the required funds to buy the groundnuts from them. However, she said since there are no signs of purchasing their nuts, their quest to sell their groundnut produce to government is fading away gradually. She said farmers in the area are currently in limbo because the government has still not started buying their groundnuts despite urging them (farmers) to sell their produce at designated government buying points, if they want to benefit from the ferterlizer that will be provided by government.
“Government has challenged farmers to sell their nuts to the designated buying centers but with lack of cash at these centers, farmers are left with no other alternatives but to sell their nuts to private buyers. This is not a good sign for our agricultural aspirations, and the government must ensure the provision of money at seccos so that they can purchase our nuts,” she said.
According to her, if the government fulfilled as promised, farmers will be motivated and engaged more into agriculture, and that the income generated from their groundnuts will be used to take care of their family needs.
Balla Jaiteh, from Fatoto village in the Kantora District, underscored that he was expecting for a ton of groundnut to be purchased at D35,000 (thirty five thousand). But expressed his dissatisfaction with the government’s intended price per ton, when it was announced.
“A bag of fertiliser was sold to us at D2,000 per bag, which translates into D40 per kilo of fertiliser. I had expected an increment in the purchase price for groundnuts this year but this expectation at the moment is thwarted,” he lamented. He said for agriculture to develop and strive in this country, the sector must be mechanised together with provision of the requisite equipment, seed and adequate fertiliser.
Mawdo Jallow, a farmer from Demba Wandu, in the Sandu District, disclosed that it is high time for the Seccos that have not commenced buying, to start immediately.
“This is the right time for them to obtain groundnuts from farmers, because failure to do so now, will allow private buyers to start coming in and when that happens, we will not hesitate to sell our nuts to them,” he said. He therefore urged the government to act quickly and buy their groundnuts to avoid them lose the number of tons they want to buy and rescue the country from losing the much needed income.
Mariama Ceesay, a vegetable producer from Songkunda village in Kanotra District, decried that she is confronted with the lack of proper fencing and water, for horticulture production.
Dilating on this year’s groundnut trade season, she informed this reporter that she has some bags of groundnuts which she intends to sell to designated government buying points in order to take care of some family matters. However, she said the designated government buying centers in her area are yet to start operations. She appealed to the government to provide them with proper fencing and easy access to water, for their gardens.
Mrs Ceesay further said that lack of groundnut buying in their area affects her because she is desperately in need of money to take care of some urgent family needs; that her only hope is to sell her groundnuts and swiftly solve her family problems such as feeding and payment of tuition fees for her children.
Alkali Jatta, another farmer from Sutukoba in Wuli East District, said he generated eight thousand, eight hundred and seventy five dalasi (D8,875) from five bags of groundnuts he sold adding that others sold their’s at a little over D2,000 per bag.
He however said that the price of groundnuts from private buyers is based on the quality and weight of the nuts. He said people like him were negatively affected when it comes to the quality of the groundnuts due to pest infestation.
“Pets infestation has impacted negatively on the quality of our groundnuts and has rendered them light. This does not earn us a good price when it is weighed at the buying centres,”he said.
He urged the Government to ensure routine visits to farming communities especially during the rainy season, to see what prevails on their farms and ensure that problems such as pest infestation and lack of the required farm inputs such as seed and fertiliser, are addressed.