Friday, September 24, 2010

Concerns about Groundnut Quality Standards Raised

“Gambian Farmers Remain the Poorest in the Society”
VOL:1 ISSN:19 The Managing Director of the Gambia groundnut cooperation (GGC) Mr. Alieu Mboge has said that the GGC are very much concerned about the quality standards of groundnut in the country, adding that the absence of certain equipments can hinder the smooth operation of the GGC.

He said that the sector is cognizant of the huge impact these items will have in service delivery and ensuring that products and quality standards commensurate to the expectations in the market.

Mr. Mboge was speaking at the GGC Complex near Denton Bridge (on the Banjul-Serrekunda Highway) on Wednesday 16th December, while presiding over a Handing over Ceremony of farming equipments received from the European Union (EU) to the GGC.

Describing the equipment as precious assets, he said they are meant to benefit the farming community, which include 40 industrial weighing scales for selected Corporative Produce Marketing Societies (CPMS), 80 groundnut grading equipment and laboratory equipment for chemical measurements and analysis.

According to him, the scales will prove very useful in the various Seccos (groundnuts buying points) as the old ones are totally worn out. He stated that these inputs will greatly enhance the operation of GGC, and can enable them to meet the various expectations of their stakeholders, including farmers.

Mr. Mboge said that agriculture is the backbone and the mainstay of The Gambian economy, so any direct intervention in this sector goes to enhance the living standard of the broad spectrum of the population, and this can ensure food security and the alleviation of poverty, which is a key priority of the Gambia government.

He said the groundnut sub-sector and by extension the agriculture sector is the critical link in our strive to attain food self sufficiency and this intervention will in many ways help to attain the lofty objectives of our cooperation which is anchored on efficiency and timely service delivery to all stakeholders.

On his part, Mr. Fausto Perini, Programme Manager European Union Delegation in The Gambia said that “groundnuts remain the main cash crop and its production, handling processing and marketing engage an important part of the active labour force in the groundnut sector.”

According him, groundnut occupied 47 per cent of the total cropped area, serving as a key socio-economic product which provides foreign exchange earnings, food, fodder and revenue for the rural community.

He said groundnut farmers are among the poorest members in The Gambian society, thus the sector has a strategic role in reducing poverty as outlined in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) II.

He added that the sector has been encountering serious constraints that have adversely affected the flow of investment, output (except for the ongoing and last years seasons, thanks to good rains), export values and quality.

He further noted that due to the decline in quality of outputs and to strengthen international quality regulations, The Gambia has to make do with the bird feed market and crude groundnut oil.

He indicated that following two consultancies funded by the European Commission in 2006 and 2007, the second of which put forward the roadmap implementation framework, which sets a strategy for the revitalization of the sub-sector. He also said that the Framework of Mutual Obligation 1999 (FMO) STABEX groundnut project was designed to improve the competitiveness of the sub-sector in particular with regard to quality assurance.


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