11 February 2013

Gambia: The Future of the Gambia Groundnut Corporation and the Cooperative Marketing Societies

Foroyaa will try to arrange a special interview with the Managing Director of the Gambia Groundnut Corporation and as many chairpersons of the Cooperative marketing societies to find out why they could not compete with the private buyers and the impact their marginalisation would have on the Gambian economy.

The Gambian population has been told by the Agribusiness Services & Producers' Association (ASPA that the Country has a groundnut producer price determination mechanism which takes into account the World Market Prices for Groundnut Products as well as parameters and ratios relevant to the domestic marketing system.

No producer price for groundnuts could be established without the approval of Government. ASPA is just designed to give expert advice on the factors needed to be considered in determining producer prices. The Government did approve for the groundnut marketing season to last from 3rd December 2012 to 15th March 2013.

The Press release issued by APSA, pegged the farm-gate Groundnut Producer Price at D1O,450 (ten thousand four hundred and fifty Dalasi per metric tonne for the 2012/13 Groundnut Marketing Season. In the Gambia, farmers sell their groundnuts per bag. According to the finding of reporters, One Metric Tonne of groundnuts is equivalent to 15 bags sold by domestic producers.

The GGC used to give money to Secco Managers to buy groundnuts in collaboration with cooperative societies. Like the old marketing board such as GOMB and GPMB, the GGC almost had a monopoly in purchasing nuts. The initial idea of linking marketing boards to cooperative marketing and consumer societies was designed to make such boards to purchase groundnuts at state determined prices and then import and sell fertilizer and rice at state determined prices so that they would be affordable to the farmers. Now that marketing corporations cannot have impact on the prices of fertilizer, farming implements and basic commodities like rice it is not feasible for them to have monopoly over the purchase of groundnuts.

Notwithstanding, GGC is more than a marketing Corporation. It also has the capacity to produce both oil and soap and other commodities such as cattle feed, etc. This value added production could also generate employment and add to the growth of the GDP of the country.

Foroyaa cannot understand why private buyers are purchasing nuts at more than 15,000 dalasis per mertric tonne while GGC is paying much less. The producer price mechanism of the country is therefore diffractive and should be overhauled with immediacy if GGC is not to be completely privatized after the season. The current producer price that GGC is willing to pay is a death warrant for the Company and the cooperative marketing societies that are linked to them. Suffice it to say retrenchment of staff would be the ultimate outcome. Urgent review of the Price determination mechanisms are essential.

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