NFSPMC Claims D793million Worth of Groundnut Paid as Controversy Clouds Over Payment of Farmers

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Trucks loading produce at the lumo in Farafenni, The Gambia © Ikiwaner, CC

By: Kebba Ansu Manneh

The Gambia National Food Security Processing and Marketing Corporation (NFSPMC) has dismissed claims that there are shortages and delays in paying farmers for their groundnut products nationwide. It announced that over seven hundred and ninety-three million dalasi (D793 million) have already been paid out to farmers as proceeds for nuts delivered at various Seccos across the country.

According to its officials, the company is cautiously working with AGIB Bank to avoid financial risks and ensure efficient and effective payment of all groundnuts delivered at the Seccos.

They told TAT the figure is expected to increase and surpass the proceeds of the previous groundnut trading seasons.

Lamin Fofana, a National Food Security Processing and Marketing Corporation marketing official, told TAT that his company has paid more than seven hundred and ninety-three million dalasi to farmers, adding that these payments have already doubled last season’s purchase.

“The payments are not delayed. We are working with the Bank AGIB, to be specific, and they are following due diligence in disbursing funds to the 94 SECCOs across the country. We paid D793 million to the SECCOs through AGIB, which already doubled last year’s total groundnut purchased,” Fofana revealed, adding, “The payments are going on today; some SECCOs have received funds.”

However, contrary to the NFSPMC disclosure, farmers and secco managers told TAT that many Seccos nationwide have stopped receiving and weighing nuts from farmers due to insufficient funds.

Some Secco Presidents and farmers who spoke with TAT called on the government to take swift action in ensuring that money is paid to farmers whose grounds have been noted, observing that many farmers have tons of nuts in their homes but are reluctant to take them to the Seccos for fear of not having their monies on time.

Ba Sorry Balisa, a Kundam Mamfatty native and prominent groundnut farmer, expressed his disappointment regarding the delayed payment for nuts delivered at Kundam Mamfatty. He disclosed that he has been going up and down for more than a month to get his payment to no avail.

According to him, many farmers in the Upper River Region (URR) are going through similar problems in getting their monies for nuts delivered at their Seccos, disclosing that many other farmers are currently finding it difficult to take their nuts to the Seccos due to the experiences encountered by farmers in getting their payment.

“The government should be very open to farmers and tell them what is causing the delay in effecting payments for nuts delivered at the Seccos, Ba Sorry Balisa observed.

He added: “I was only able to get my payment yesterday after a month of taking my nuts to the Seccos. Currently, I have more than a hundred bags of nuts with me that I want to sell. Still, I am afraid to take them to the Seccos because I wouldn’t know when I may get the money, and I have no choice but to keep it until I see reliable middlemen to sell to.”

Banjally Kanteh, a native of Jahali Madina in the Southern Central River Region (CRR) of the country, also confirmed to TAT that many Seccos in his region, including that of Boiram Village, have stopped receiving nuts from farmers for lack of cash. He noted that he and many others who have delivered their nuts have yet to receive payment for over a month.

Kanteh told TAT that he had delivered five (5) tons of groundnuts since last December, but NFSPMC did not pay him through the AGIB Bank. He called on the government to help resolve the situation as soon as possible, considering the problem of many farmers who only receive payment once a year.

Daguneh Fofana, a Secco President of the Secco Presidents in the Upper River Region, disclosed that the only problem facing them is the need for more funds available at Seccos to pay for nuts delivered by farmers.

He said there is enough groundnut with farmers due to a lack of adequate funds at the Seccos is making them reluctant to bring forth their nuts for purchase, adding that NFSPMC officials are not effectively communicating to the Secco Presidents the reason behind the lack of funds at the Seccos making their job very difficult to execute.

He advised the management of the National Food Security Processing and Marketing Corporation to work hand in glove with the government to address any issue they might be encountering, observing that the lack of funds at Seccos will certainly not only affect them but equally affect the government in terms of revenue generation.

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