Abdoulai G. Dibba
Farmers who have been given promissory notes for their groundnuts at Seccos across the country, are desperately waiting for cash to be available at their Seccos, for them to receive their hard earn yearly income.
The farmers who were contacted by this reporter, asserted that the Gambia Groundnut Corporation which is the body responsible for the marketing of their nuts, owe them millions of Dalasi through their cooperative marketing societies (Seccos). Farmers made these assertions during a tour of the farming communities by this reporter, from the 17th to 23rd February 2019. The tour led him to Barra, Kerewan, Kaur, Kuntuar, Bansang and Kudan Depots.
Farmers within these depot circles, disclose that the trade season has stopped since the middle of January, when Seccos ran out of cash and were given promissory, in place of cash.
A Secco Manager in Kudang depot circle informed this reporter that 300 tons of groundnut was transited to the depot; that out of this, the GGC owes 140 tons of farmers’ nuts, which is equivalent to D2.6 million.
According to the Secco Manager, when the president made the pronouncement that cash will be disbursed to settle the arrears, his Secco was stormed by farmers saying, the president has given money to pay them, and asked where their money was; that it was indicated on GRTS that during the course of the following week, the National Food Security Corporation (formerly GGC), was to receive some D396 million through the Central Bank of The Gambia, for the immediate purchase of groundnuts from farmers; but that up to time he was speaking to this reporter, no cash was available in his Secco.
Another Secco manager in the Kerewan depot circle, asserted that he deposited over 200 tons of nuts with the GGC owing 54 tons from this amount, equivalent to D1 million; that he heard what the president said but added that Government should not only stop at making pronouncement, but should make sure that cash is disbursed accordingly at Seccos.
When contacted to shed light on the claim of farmers, Depot Managers who were willing to talk to this reporter indicated that they only know the tonnage in their depots but cannot say how much of that tonnage is bought in cash or credit. According to them, they received nuts from Seccos and private buyers and issued them with receipts, confirming the deposit of their nuts, which they will take to GGC, for payment.
‘‘What we can say is there is credit buying, but how much in terms of tonnage available in our depots, I cannot say,” on Depot Manager concludes.
As it stands, there is no activity in all the Depots visited by this reporter. In the same vein, no activity is also taking place at Seccos as Managers have abandoned their Seccos due to endless enquiries from farmers, as to when cash will be available.