Abdoulai G. Dibba
The Kaur Depot that used to decorticate groundnuts purchased from the “seccos” within that circle, has become un-operational for years now as the machines lie ruined, spoilt and rotten.
The Minister of Agriculture Hon. Omar A. Jallow, disclosed that in 1968 / 69 when he was running Kaur and Njau as an Agric Inspector, the groundnut that was coming to the Kaur depot alone was over 30, 000 metric tonnes, almost equal to present day national production.
Minister Jallow made these disclosures at the Kaur Depot during day two of his sixth countrywide tour, to meet members of the farming community. OJ indicated his shock by what he saw at the Kaur depot as gross negligence on the side of previous governments. “Today all these machines are dysfunctional and the depot is dead as a graveyard, when it used to be one of the busiest and very important to the economy of the country,” he stated.
The Agric. Minister said government cannot let the depot die like it is and will surely bring it back to its former glory. According to OJ, funding has already been secured from international donors, to rehabilitate some of the facilities of the GGC and his officials will engage GGC officials to prioritise; but that something he said, needs to be done urgently about the depot.
For the information of the reader, the introduction of the groundnut crop (commonly known as peanut) to the Gambia, was by the Portuguese in the 16th century from a Brazilian species for domestic consumption only and not for agricultural export. Later, it was introduced in The Gambia by the British as a cash crop.
In 1903, the British Government stepped in to store, subsidise and distribute the groundnut crop and in 1921, decided on a change of policy and establish the Department of Agriculture. This was followed by foreign advisers who organise seed storage facilities as well as the establishment of the Gambia Co-operative Union (GCU).
Following the drought of the early 1960s, higher world prices of the commodity as well as good harvests, assisted the country after its independence in 1965.
In 1973, the Gambia Produce Marketing Board (GPMB) took over the management of the crop by setting up collection depots which the Kaur Depot was part and parcel of, selling fertilizer at low cost to farmers at seccos (groundnut buying points). Barges along the river transported the nuts down from up-country regions to Banjul.
The GPMB was later bankrupted and sold off to a company called Alimenta S.A. in 1993 who re-named the Company to the Gambia Groundnut Corporation (GGC).
In 1999, Government shut down the Company by Presidential decree and it came under Government ownership up to now.
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