Last year, like the year before, the regime of Yaya Jammeh started off the season late with conflicting announcement about the official opening of the season that left the Gambian farming community confused.
First, the regime withdrew its association with the Agribusiness Services and Producers Association (ASPA), effectively giving monopoly power to Gambia Groundnut Corporation (GGC), a public enterprise that is not financial solvent under ordinary circumstances. You can find our comments on the two previous seasons here and here .
We are now in the second week in December without any indication from GGC as to plans for the seasons. Based on information available thus far, the late rains have impacted the quality of the nuts as well as its quality. Therefore, it will very optimistic to match lasts years purchase of 32,000 tons. The producer price is yet to be announced which adds to the uncertainty.
With the economy in the doldrums, credit buying or its avoidance is uppermost in the minds of the farming communities. They need their money immediately upon delivery, especially in these hard economic times. The regime and the local councils have failed in providing the much needed services despite taxes and rates collected from the poorest of the rural communities. To delay payments for their produce is unjust and immoral.
The second pressing issue facing is allowing the ASPA and allow other private buyers to participate in buying this year's crop. In 2013, the regime handed monopoly power to GGC. When it could not deliver in its new-found role, the private buyers were allowed midway (January 2013) into the season. Upon entry into the market, they forced the producer price upward which benefitted the farmers greatly. Higher producer process greatly enhanced farmer income in 2013, thanks to an open market.
We hope in the 2015 season, private buyers will be allowed to participate and compete with GGC, an event that can only benefit the rural farmers by enhancing their incomes.