Mr. Muhammad Njie the Managing Director of National Food Security processing and marketing Corporation, formerly known as Gambia Groundnut Corporation has defended decisions and actions taken on the groundnut trade.
Mr Njie in an exclusive interview with Foroyaa was answering questions on the lower price of groundnuts offered by the government and a statement warning traders without buying licence to desist from the groundnut trade.
According to Njie, over the past couple of years, a lot of individuals, in some cases, companies come to our country, buy groundnut, and then take it out of the country, adding that those individuals or companies are not registered in most cases, don't have business registrations and don't pay tax. He stated that the law requires that for one to be a buyer in the industry, one needs to meet certain minimum criteria, which includes having a location. Number two, you need to have the equipment, that is, the screen and the scale so that the farmers are not cheated.
"What we have realised is a lot of them don't have that. And here we are saying, we don't want you to go to the farmer and then just buy on face value by just looking at product and say that, this is the price. So, instead of the farmer receiving 1000[kg], maybe the farmers is receiving 900kg on the weigh. So, that is what we are trying to protect," he asserted.
He said the second thing is the government of the Gambia is subsidizing the farmers. He added that the price of the groundnut is also subsidized by the government, that for every metric ton (which is bought at D20,700) government is paying D5700.
"If you look at the trend, like comparing last year to this year, it has increased by 15% which has never happened up to this level normally," he argued.
He said it would not be fair for the economy to lose out after investing all these resources. He further said, they want a level playing field, adding that and other operators in the Gambia pay tax, create employment, hire locals, and when they process and export, they generate foreign exchange earnings. "This foreign exchange earnings is what these businessmen use to buy other commodities such as rice, sugar etc.," he emphasised.
Njie further explained that, they are not saying one cannot sell. What they want is for them to have the minimum standards.
He denied that their statement was a threat to farmers but just that there are rules and regulations in each country.
"You cannot go to our neighboring countries and then carry out your machines there and start processing, they will confiscate your assets," he stressed.