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April 21, 2008

Gambian farmers cautioned against selling to middlemen

Gambian farmers have been warned to desist from selling their cereals and grains to "traders from the sub-region" instead of the government-controlled company. In a statement, officials of the Agriculture Ministry said sub-regional traders storm the Gambian market upon realising a cash shortage in the farming community, buy agricultural products at cheaper prices and later resell them at exorbitant prices to farmers.

Over the years, Gambian peanut farmers have been crying foul over the government's failure to buy their produce on time. In most cases, farmers became victims of credit buying and as such waited for several months before they get their money. Consequently, most farmers either sell their nuts outside the country or abandoned groundnut cultivation all together.

Agriculture, especially groundnut export, has been the key foreign exchange earner to the Gambian economy, but problems in the marketing of groundnut produce have adverse effects on the economy and famrers.

For a decade, the national groundnut buyer Gambia Groundnut Corporation (GCC) had woefully failed to satisfy Gambian farmers after months of tilling the land. Farmers turned their back to the GCC during the 2007/8 groundnut trade season and crossed borders to Senegal to sell their produce. The national buyer had reportedly managed to buy only 3,000 metric tons of groundnut during the last season.

The Agriculture Ministry has been overseen by the Office of the President since the sacking of Agriculture Minister, Kanja Sanneh.

Gambia News

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