By Lamin Fatty
Basse, 13th December, 2021: Groundnut farmers in the Upper River Region (URR) have expressed their concerns over the late official announcement of the price of groundnuts and the commencement date of the groundnut trade season.
The farmers lamented that it is almost the middle of the month of December and there is growing concern from farmers regarding an announcement on the start of the aforesaid season.
Usually in the Gambia, the farm-gate price for groundnuts and the commencement of the trade season is announced in early December; however, this year’s season seems to be getting late.
This reporter visited some ‘Seccos’ (buying points) to assess their level of preparedness ahead of the 2022 groundnut trade season. The buying points visited included Jah Kunda in Wulli West, Baja Kunda, Wulli East, Dasilameh in Sandu, Kundam in Tumanna and Bakadagy in Jimara. However, at all the stations visited, everything was at a standstill. Not even site clearing has been done at all the buying points visited by this reporter.
According to the chairperson of the “Secco” presidents of URR, Duguneh Fofana, this year’s groundnuts trade season is late because of the presidential elections that was held in early December.
“As I am talking to you now, all ‘Seccos’ in the region have already received money for the rehabilitation and maintenance of their ‘Seccos’ before the actual beginning of the season. Even though, most of us have not started site clearing because we are still busy on our farms,” he stated.
He, however, disclosed that there is ongoing discussion among ‘Secco’ Presidents and the GGC over the commencement of the trade season.
Some farmers who spoke to this reporter, said selling their groundnuts at the “Seccos” may be worthless for them because selling groundnuts at GGC’s ‘Seccos’ is subjected to winowing and weighing, which means the price of a bag of groundnuts is determined by its weight; adding that middle men and other local buyers buy full bags of groundnuts directly from them at a bargain price agreed upon. This, he said, makes most farmers to believe that selling their groundnuts to local buyers, is more profitable than selling their produce to GGC’s ‘Seccos’.