By Kebba Secka
As part of Foroyaa’s mission to monitor, observe and evaluate the progress of each year’s groundnut trade season within the farming community, a visit was made to Panchang in the Upper Saloum District of the Central River Region by this reporter on Sunday, December 26, 2021, where secco officials and farmers disclosed that the Gambia may buy the largest tons of groundnut ever in this country this year, citing its price, believed to be better than any other year’s.
“As of now, what is bought in this secco (Panchang) has exceeded what was bought during the entire last year trade season. Last year, less than one hundred and thirty tons of groundnut was bought, and within a month this year, this secco has already bought more than the quantity bought last year, and we are still buying,” Fafa Jallow, the Panchang Secco President said; adding that this indicates that more nuts will be bought in the Gambia than ever before.
He opined that the process of buying nuts and the supply of cash, has been smoothly progressing much to the appreciation of both farmers and secco officials; stating that the last cash supply of D2,000,000 to the Secco was received on the 25 of December, 2021, and deposited in the Secco’s account for the buying of nuts on the spot, and the repayment of nuts that were obtained on credit during a brief interval of cash shortage.
On whether there had been any improvement on their commission, Jallow disclosed that this has also been improved, but varies depending on a Secco’s distance to the depot. Screening of nuts at the buying point is said to be optional for farmers. The secco president told this medium that some farmers like their nuts to be screened while others prefer to sell it as it is.
“Screening the nuts just depends on the agreement we have with the farmer,” said Abdoulie Jallow.
On whether there is any challenge for 2021 groundnut trade season, Jallow expressed satisfaction over the whole process while lamenting that some nuts are light in weight.
“Well, there is an issue of poor quality of nuts but this is not a major concern in this area. Most of the nuts sold here are heavy in weight. Most of the people around here sowed their nuts in the first rains and their nuts are of good quality. The light weight nuts are mainly caused by late sowing,” explained Panchang secco president.
He said the secco has a watchman and the Police Intervention Unit in the area often provide back up at night.
According to Jallow, there is full assurance that Gambia will buy the largest tons of nuts ever bought in this country because no Gambian thinks of selling their nuts across the border; indicating that border villages in Senegal are crossing to sell their nuts because the price is better in the Gambia.
Yarro Sambou, the Alkalo of Touben village in Upper Saloum, expressed appreciation for this year’s farm gate, calling on the Government to further increase it to thirty dalasi. He also lamented that he is not appreciative of the shortage of cash supply that often happens for a week.
“If cash was abundantly available all the time, there would have been more groundnuts,” the Alkalo said.
According to him, supply of cash is not forthcoming because he is among those whose nuts were bought on credit for almost a week. He, however, calls on Government to facilitate access to enough fertiliser for farmers especially during the moment when their nuts are being bought.
“We want to cultivate varieties of crops like coos, millets, or even rice and vegetables but we are hindered by fertiliser. We want it to be sold to us at this time so that we can buy enough and keep it for the next rainy season,” said Sambou.
Commenting on what causes less weight nuts, Sambou said it affects only people who sowed their seeds late. He said he is among those farmers with light weight nuts because he did not have enough farm tools or machinery to be able to sow on time.