By Kebba Secka
Scores of farmers in Lower Saloum and secco officials are anticipating more groundnuts for the government if the buying price is increased to thirty thousand per tonne.
For the secco officials, the increment from D28 to D30 per kilogram will save them from the challenge of giving out coins for change.
The government in a press release announced the farmgate price of groundnuts 2021 and 2022 at twenty-eight thousand dalasi per tonne which represents twenty-eight dalasi per kilogram.
Speaking to farmers during Foroyaa’s meet the farmers tour in Saloum on Sunday 26th December, 2021, Malick Ceesay of Jimbala Kerr Chendou, is among farmers who want the government to increase the buying price to thirty thousand per tonne from its current price tag.
“Thirty thousand (30, 000) per tonne will be much appreciated and it will be a motivation for farmers to grow more groundnuts,” Ceesay said.
He said groundnuts cultivated around Jimbala in Lower Saloum District of Central River Region are not too heavy in weight. He also said he wants fertiliser to be sold early and made accessible to farmers.
Ceesay said over the past years, farmers from Lower Saloum would have to go to Farafenni only to acquire fertiliser, adding the variety of crops grown in the area particularly, groundnuts, millet and coos. He also wants the government to empower farmers in growing large quantities of rice.
Alhagie Basirou Ceesay also called on the government to increase the price to thirty thousand which represents thirty dalasi per kilogram. According to him, the hardship experienced during crop production deserves a better buying price like D30 per kilogram.
About fertiliser, Basirou Ceesay urged the government to make fertiliser accessible early through loan, so that it can be repaid immediately, after their produces are harvested and sold.
“I want the government to consider giving us fertiliser in the form of a loan. If they really want to support farmers, we’re calling on them to provide enough fertiliser and make it accessible. If it is made available, it will increase our production and the government will be able to buy enough from us (farmers),” said Basirou.
Basirou Ceesay attributed the causes of light weight nuts to lack of enough fertiliser and inconsistent rains. Thus, he called on the government to improve the procedures of acquiring fertiliser, especially the buying points. He recommended the buying points to be at seccos because banks are not accessible in CRR.
Ali Fanta is also a farmer in Lower Saloum. He expressed appreciation of the modalities put in place for this year’s trade season. Notwithstanding, he requested the government to increase the groundnuts’ buying price to at least thirty dalasi.
“Farming is hard. It is out of no choice that the government would have to determine the value of our labour and give any price for our produces to be sold. It’s unfortunate, but we don’t have a choice because a government is powerful, that is why they would dictate the price of our produces that we spent time and energy to work on. I definitely want the government to buy our remaining nuts at D30 per kilo (kilogra),” he said.
He also said farmers in the area would want to shift from subsistence farming to cash cropping and vegetable gardening, saying there are farmlands within the area that could be used to boost vegetable gardening but the resources aren’t available for farmers.
“I only knew one tractor in the entire Lower Saloum and this tractor was owned by a private individual. The government only donated limited power tillers and these tillers were used in the rice swampy fields (foros). We need tractors to till the lands and apply enough fertiliser to be able to boost our production,” Ali said.
He also explained that the government through the Ministry of Agriculture used to help farmers with a variety of rice that were early matured and suitable for growing on any field but such assistance has not continued. He appealed to the government to bring back such help to promote productivity and production.
Demba Bah is the president of Kaur Secco One. Kaur in Lower Saloum has two seccos. The first and oldest is located in Wharf Town behind the venue where a weekly market (lumo) is held. It was the first one this paper visited before the second secco.
In an interview, the secco president Demba, acknowledged a receipt of about three million on the 25th of December, 2021, a day after foroyaa’s visit.
When asked how long the money supplied will stay, Demba explained that the money will soon be exhausted because nuts possessed by farmers are forthcoming to the buying point.
“The money will soon be exhausted. Although, the amount may be big in name but it will be exhausted looking at the quantity of groundnuts already deposited in the secco waiting for cash. Even today, we are not doing any weighing. We concentrate on giving out cash to those whose groundnuts were received here on credits,” said Samba Bah.
Asked whether there is any delay in the timely supply of cash by the government, Bah expressed appreciation of the process and encouraged the government to continue to learn from previous years’ trade successes and failures to improve the modalities. He equally wants the buying price to be thirty thousand in order to save them from the challenges of giving out coins for change.
The second secco in Kaur was created in 2018 and it is located beside the police checkpoint along Farafenni-Janjanbureh highway. Heliman Bah, is the secco president. He dilated on the smooth progress of the year’s trade season.
He said the price in the Gambia is better than that in Senegal and middlemen would prefer transporting their nuts to Gambian’s seccos to Senegal. He said since 15th December, 2021, secco two has never broken a day without being busy buying nuts.
He also explained that the country may have more groundnuts if the price is increased to thirty dalasi per kilogram because there are no bumper harvests in some parts of the country.
“I think, if the price is increased and cash also continues to be coming unhindered, we would be able to buy about four hundred tons of groundnuts this year, ” said Heliman Bah.
This paper could confirm that the heap of groundnuts found in both seccos of Kaur were larger than what was found during a visit the same time last year. At the time of the visit, farmers momentarily transported their nuts into the seccos even during the afternoon which is usually characterised by heat.