Gambian peanut farmers get paid after a long, tough year
Angry peanut farmers in The Gambia were relieved in October when they finally received what amounted to more than $1.5 million they were owed for up to a year. Sulayman Dahaba, a farmer in the Basse administrative division of the country's far east, said that if payments were late again next season he and other peanut farmers would have to find other sources of income.
In the wake of recent government policies, first to nationalise and then privatise the peanut industry, production of what had been the country's main export earner in the 1980s has dropped from over 100,000 tonnes a year to just 24,000 tonnes this year.
And in an attempt to revive the industry, the government and private peanut buying agents last year announced that farmers would all get cash for their produce. At the beginning of the buying season local committees set up centers for agents and farmers to meet, weighed the peanuts and exchanged them for cash, but the buyers soon ran out of money.
In May, the Secretary of State for Agriculture, Yankuba Touray, announced that the government had sent two secretaries of state abroad for the purpose of finding the money to pay the peanut farmers. But it was only when the buyers received payment from the international companies they had sold to that they started distributing money to the farmers.