Feb 8, 2013, 10:12 AM
A public-private sector stakeholder meeting on groundnut trade and marketing wraps up today in Jenoi in the Lower River Region (LRR).
The objective of the two-day meeting is to bring together all the stakeholders in the groundnut value chain, to discuss the challenges confronting the marketing of groundnut and groundnut by-products in The Gambia, as well as to sensitise key stakeholders on how to maintain quality assurance within the various stages of the groundnut value chain.
Emphasis should really be placed on tackling market challenges of our cash crops such as groundnuts and cashew nuts, because these are the produce that form part of the productive base of our economy; hence they deserve all-time support and proper coordination for a fruitful return to those that till the land and to the national economy.
The cry has long been that our groundnut farmers, especially, on most occasions, receive less for the value of their produce when marketed.
Many issues could be responsible for this discouraging situation. These include unfair deal or bargaining at the international markets, too many middlemen in the marketing chain depleting the income to be realised by the grassroots farmers, and low quality produce or preservation mechanism to make the crop stand the test of stiff competition at the international market.
It is, therefore, expected that the organisers of the public-private sector meeting - the Trade ministry, the International Trade Centre (ITC), and Agribusiness Services and Producers Association (ASPA) - will be relentless in finding solutions to the marketing challenges faced by our farmers in this country.
We should commend and further appeal to the SCEDP – Sector Competitiveness and Export Diversification Project - for funding the public-private sector meeting.
The SCEDP aims at responding to some of the trade-related development priorities identified in the Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS) by providing agric-sector specific support for groundnuts, cashew nuts and sesame through finding new export opportunities and product diversification.
Agric-sector specific support to finding more export opportunities is highly needed to derive maximum benefits from our cash crops.
This should be earnestly pursued because export-led growth, it is widely acknowledged, was the centrepiece of the industrial policy that enriched much of Asia and left millions of people there far better off.
The condition of our farmers and our economy needs to be constantly improved upon, especially as regards agriculture-led growth; for when all is said and done, the health of the agricultural sector dictates the health of all other sectors of our economy.
“To make agriculture sustainable, the grower has got to be able to make a