The leadership of The Gambia Farmers Union has expressed its gratitude to the government of President Adama Barrow and the National Food Security Processing and Marketing Corporation, formerly called Gambia Groundnut Corporation for standing by farmers in the past groundnut trade season.

Addressing executive members of the union on Friday who visited the GGC offices, Managing Director Momodou Njie disclosed that the government has earmarked over one billion dalasis for fertiliser and groundnut subsidies in 2024. He said the subsidies clearly demonstrate the government’s commitment to improve the plight of Gambian farmers.

The bumper harvest of groundnut this year is associated with the competitive price and availability of quality fertiliser. The government initially earmarked D500 million to purchase groundnuts at D38,000 per tonne, surpassing the global price by D18,000. However, due to the successful harvest, the GGC ended up spending an unprecedented one billion dalasis.

“We already have 20,000 tonnage of fertilizer in our store and another 10,000 is on its way to Banjul,” he disclosed.

MD Njie assured the farmers that the government is committed to agriculture.

“The president always ensures that the farmers receive the best treatment from the government, and this is why whenever we, GGC, come up with our price structure, he will deliberately increase it,” he said.

Njie said in 2020, the tonnage of groundnut was increased from D15,000 to D18,000, then to D22,000 in 2021, D28,000 in 2022, and D38,000 in 2023.

“Who is more committed than the president? We don’t take these decisions, he does,” he said.

He said President Barrow is “keenly aware” of the role farmers play in feeding the nation and, by extension, contributing to the country’s economy.

He said a bag of fertilizer was sold for D1,150 in 2023, representing a significant reduction compared to the 2022 price of D2,000. The subsidies, he added, are expected to further make fertiliser affordable for farmers and make the prices of groundnut more competitive.

Mr Njie admitted challenges in the just-concluded trade season but said: “We don’t want to see a negative infiltration of the minds of the farmers. Our doors are open, and we are always ready to engage to address challenges confronting our stakeholders,” he said.

GGC deputy managing director, Lamin Sanyang, said the corporation will continue to ensure that fertiliser is available to all farmers across the country. He said the corporation has started importing rice, flour, and cooking oil in a bid to keep prices within the means of the average Gambian.

Gambia Farmers Union president Alieu Bah said “the country’s farmers are very proud of the corporation’s continuous support” to them over the years.

“We are aware of the huge sum of money [D1.4billon] spent on purchasing nuts alone this season. This is historic. Therefore, we want to thank the government,” he said.

He said President Barrow had fulfilled his promise of empowering Gambian farmers.

The secretary general of the union, Modou Njie, said GGC “has been doing a tremendous job” over the years, notably in the provision of fertiliser for farmers.

“We want to commend MD Njie for opening his doors to Gambian farmers. Before his appointment, farmers were totally disconnected from the GGC, but now whatever they [GGC] do, they do it with farmers, and that is very important,” he added.

He said the union has followed up with farmers and they have all been paid. “Not a single person is owed. GGC has settled all the farmers,” he disclosed.

The union’s vice president, Alhagie Ceesay, extolled the GGC: “The recent efforts of the GGC and the government towards empowering farmers will address the food challenges in the country. We are all free to support the parties of our choice, but when it comes to national development, we should all put our party colours aside and see the country because if this country goes astray, we will all face the consequences,” he said. He urged the government to ensure farmers are provided with the needed resources at all times.

The representative of the secco presidents, Amat Sarr, commended the GGC for buying the unprecedented 38,000 tonnes of groundnut in the past trade season.

Source: The Standard

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