By Own Correspondent – The president of National Farmers’ Platform, Musa Jawneh, has denied claims that Gambian groundnuts (peanuts) have high aflo-toxin content, arguing that they are of good quality like any other nuts coming from the sub-region.
He was reacting to reports that Gambian peanuts have been affected by aflo-toxin and, as such, they are not doing well in the world market compared to others produced in the sub-region.
Mr. Jawneh vehemently denied that aflo-toxin is a problem, but admitted that Gambian groundnuts face challenges such as low oil content.
This, he explained, is due to the fact that the groundnut variety being cultivated in the Gambia has been around for the past 26 years. The country needs a new variety of groundnut seeds, he said.
Mr. Jawneh also believes that reviving the farmers’ cooperatives with the necessary capacity to trade, and giving them the necessary voice at different levels of decision-making can help the country alleviate poverty.
This is sure to happen, because in cooperatives marketing, all benefits that accrue to the cooperative societies are ploughed back to the membership as bonuses and dividends, based on the participation of each member, he added.
He went on to cite the fact that most of the profits realized went to the private company groundnut buyers and middle-men traders that operate in the groundnuts sub-sector.
“All that went to farmers was the producer price. Since farmers realize this, they would prefer to trade among themselves, through their own societies, so that all profits realized will be shared among them as bonuses and dividends,” he continued.
“There are other activities like subsistence credit to help farmers during the ‘hungry season’, which cooperative societies provide, as well as a production credit scheme to enhance and facilitate their production activities.
Cooperatives can also fight against high prices of basic commodities through the establishment of consumer cooperative societies. This will automatically control prices throughout the country, without the need to employ an official price control mechanism, said the head of the national farmers’ platform.