The Gambia government has announced the disbursement of a whopping D500 million on Friday to settle all monies it owed farmers who sold their groundnuts to the National Food Security Processing and Marketing Corporation, formerly GGC.

The relief on the faces of concerned secco managers as GGC Managing Director Muhammed Njie announced the disbursement on Saturday was palpable.

The government has already spent over D1 billion on the purchase of groundnut, but despite that, the corporation has come under immense pressure over the past few weeks due to the delay of funds at its 94 seccos across the country.

According to secco managers, the shortage is attributable to the massive harvest this year due to the timely disbursement of quality fertiliser.

In this year’s management, Agib is the bank tasked with the responsibility of disbursing the funds to farmers, but they disburse based on the availability of funds from the government. The Gambia is known for buying groundnuts in credit, but that has significantly improved since the arrival of the current GGC MD.

Announcing the disbursement to presidents of Corporative Producer Marketing Societies, CPMS, on Saturday, Managing Director Muhammed Njie said President Adama Barrow is very committed to the plight of Gambian farmers.

According to Njie, when the president was informed about the growing agitation of farmers regarding the delay, he ordered an emergency meeting on Friday and instructed the ministry of finance and the Central Bank to ensure that they were paid without any further delay.

He said the idea was to hand over the money to the secco managers in checks, but they advised that Agib should continue with the payment.

“All peanut farmers whose stocks have not been paid for will eventually get paid,” he said.

Njie added that the amount disbursed will clear all the debt and even buy more groundnut.

“I want to encourage that we understand each other’s constraints. When things are difficult, we should always remember the good things that happened between us in the past. We should not allow others to come between us,” Njie said.

He said the corporation is open to engaging with anyone who has issues but advised farmers against making too much out of nothing, especially when they know GGC’s doors are always open for them.

The GGC deputy managing director, Lamin Sanyang, advised farmers against using such setbacks to score political gains.

“We should endeavour to be truthful at all times, even if the truth doesn’t favour us,” he said.

The president of the NBR CPMS, Amat Sarr, said the GGC MD should be commended for redefining the relationship between farmers and the corporation. He said farmers should appreciate the changes brought about by Mr Njie.

Sarr informed the farmers that MD Njie has done everything humanly possible to ensure the money was released on Friday.

“But there are people going around asking about the groundnut season just to criticise the government, but they are not talking about the fertiliser, which has been a great success,” he said.

He said the highest expenditure on groundnut before this year was less than D600,000.

Alhagie Ceesay, Farmers Union vice president, said the unprecedented harvest of groundnut this year can be attributed to the quality of fertiliser given to farmers by the government. He said the issue of groundnut had nothing to do with politics and should not be politicised, adding that farmers should appreciate the efforts of the government and understand that the country is a developing country and doesn’t have all the means like other countries.

Chief Yahya Jarjusey, a board member of the GGC and secco president in Jarra, urged his fellow secco president not to allow individuals who are politicising the issue to use them to say things that are not true.

A representative of the CRR CPMS, Amadou Nyang, commended the GGC MD for initiating such an important meeting, which he said was the first of its kind in the history of the corporation. He said farmers go through a lot to earn the little things they are earning, and it will only be right for them to receive the fruit of their labour. Nyang urged the GGC to avert such shortages in the future.

Tamsir Jawara, a representative of CRR South CPMS, said secco president are grateful to the GGC MD for his support and commended him for visiting all the seccos before the groundnut season begins.

Source: The Standard

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