By Kebba Secka and Kebba Mamburrey
The Managing Director of the Gambia Groundnuts Cooperative Company, Muhammed Njie, has refuted claims that there is shortage of cash with the Secco (buying point and store) Managers.
Director Njie made the rebuttal in an interview at his office on Monday 21st December, 2020.
On Monday 14th December, Foroyaa visited Njau and Panchang seccos, all in Upper Saloum District, where Agib bank officials on the ground together with the Secco managers said they were not paying because of cash inadequacy.
The president of the Secco managers, Mr Nyangado, was contacted during the same period via telephone and he confirmed cash inadequacy in other seccos. He also confirmed to have received complaints of the same scenario from managers in other seccos.
Two different managers also confirmed to this medium that they could buy more than what they are buying if enough cash is provided.
When all these were put to him, Managing Director Njie summed them up as total false, arguing that the claimants (referring to secco managers) aren’t too happy with the company’s partnership with AGIB bank to ensure payment of groundnuts are sold on the spot.
“This year, we thought it is a high risk to be giving cash without seccos to have the governance structure or bank account. So we see that the bulk of the monies spent for buying groundnuts in the previous years are not received in return as expected. So we decided to change the approach and partner with Agib Bank to be available at all Secco and pay farmers on the spot,” he said.
Njie alleged that the managers are the ones blaming the new development (i.e. buying on the spot) in the trade season because they are not allowed to handle the money as they used to do in the past.
According to him, this is the reason for what he described as sabotage in the trade season.
Commenting on how money is disbursed to various buying points, Njie said there is no specific amount given to each Secco. Instead, he said the performance of seccos determine the amount of money to be given.
“The amount given varies, because cash is difficult to handle. We analyse their buying capacities to determine how much to supply them. In some seccos, we sent one hundred thousand, four hundred thousand and even one million dalasi,” he said.
Njie further alleged that the unpleasant news from the buying points is mainly from the managers who wanted to do the payment themselves. He thus appealed for all stakeholders to unilaterally aim for a successful trade season as they are all important and none of them could succeed without the other.
Speaking further, Njie explained that another development he initiated in the best interest of the farmers is the electronic weighing, which reads out the kilograms immediately the bags are placed on the scale.
This, according to him, also runs contrary to the appreciation of the managers as they want the manual scales to be maintained.
“These are all facts that I do not want to say out as it seem to tarnish their image but I have to do it because of their reaction,” Njie asserted.
MD Njie said some of the managers who were reluctant to report to their secco at the beginning of the season as a protest were scared with the introduction of the electronic scales. He said the service of the electronic scales does not need much man power because it is easy to handle.
The MD was quick to add that the electronic scales were not meant for roll out this year, but its introduction was a demonstration of how the company is prepared to operate in accountability. He said the manual scales may be replaced by electronic ones next year in all buying points.